The Super Eagles’ quest for a fourth continental title ended in disappointment when they were beaten 2-1 by the hosts at the Olympic Stadium of Ebimbe in Abidjan on Sunday, February 11.
Despite taking a first-half lead through captain William Troost-Ekong’s header, Nigeria failed to build on it and were punished in the second half by Ivory Coast.
First, Franck Kessie was left unmarked in the box to head home the equaliser just after the hour mark, before Sebastien Haller gave the Elephants a deserved lead with nine minutes left on the clock.
Nigeria coach Peseiro tries to explain Super Eagles defeat
Despite their best efforts in the dying embers of the game, the Super Eagles could not find an equaliser, as they succumbed to a painful defeat.
The loss to Ivory Coast was Nigeria’s first of the tournament, having gone unbeaten en route to the final, but it also saw them miss out on the trophy that has eluded them since 2013.
Addressing the media in the aftermath of the game, Peseiro gave his opinion on what went wrong for his side and said his players were surprisingly too nervous during the final.
“Cote d’Ivoire were the main favourites for this tournament; they have very good players, wingers, and very fast wingers,” the Nigeria coach said after the match.
“Quality wingers in attack, they are a good team but they were almost out, I don’t know if that situation did change the pressure.
“They were fantastic; they didn’t play with pressure, and they didn’t feel nervous, but on the opposite, my players, my team felt nervous more than their opponents.”
‘Super Eagles lost too many balls’ – Nigeria coach
The Nigeria coach also detailed the errors made by his side, lamenting how his players uncharacteristically lost the ball too easily to the Elephants.
He admitted his players were not at their best and insisted they didn’t seem to be comfortable throughout the game.
“We lose many balls; I don’t know why; I don’t think my players were comfortable today,” the 63-year-old conceded.
“From the back, we lose too many balls, and with that, you allow the opponent to create many chances, and they attack and attack.”
Peseiro’s future remains unknown, with his current contract set to expire immediately after AFCON.