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POST-MORTEM: 5 Peseiro blunders in Super Eagles’ draw with Equatorial Guinea

POST-MORTEM: 5 Peseiro blunders in Super Eagles’ draw with Equatorial Guinea
January 15
16:11 2024

The Super Eagles of Nigeria kicked off their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign with an uninspiring 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea on Sunday.

Although the team was dominant against the Equatoguineans, Nigeria failed to dispatch their opponents.

The match underlined a handful of problems facing the team: profligacy, incoherence and tactical lapses.

 Jose Peseiro, Super Eagles’ head coach, is the culprit of the latter, and his tactical errors were significant in the team’s lack of dynamism.


TheCable highlights five gaffes made by Peseiro in the game.

Frank Onyeka over Raphael Onyedika

Onyeka was picked as the holding midfielder in a double pivot alongside Alhassan Yusuf, but the Brentford player was swallowed up by the responsibility. The major duty of a central midfielder is to break the opposition’s moves when defending and be the verve to propel the team’s attack from deep. 


Onyeka missed the brief clearly, and his struggle became more apparent when Yusuf was ferried off injured later in the second half. Peseiro could have started Raphael Onyedika who has more intelligence to impose the control the role requires.

Peseiro fluffed his line with the pick, and it hurt the team’s build-up, mainly down the middle of the field. 

Rusty Zaidu Sanusi ahead of Bruno Onyemaechi

Before AFCON, Zaidu Sanusi was on the fringes of the FC Porto team, playing just four league games since the season commenced. His performance against Equatorial Guinea was fraught with clear indications of rustiness.


Although not exactly troubled with much defensive burden, he was allowed numerous foray upfield, but he made little out of them. Sanusi also missed big chances that could have made a difference in a match.

Boavista’s Bruno Onyemaechi may have been a better option on the left side since the team needed to attack. The 24-year-old has been a constant for Boavista in the Portuguese league this campaign, and his form is way better than Sanusi’s. 

Wrong formation

Peseiro’s biggest undoing in the game was his strategy. He opted for 4-3-3 with the duo of Ademola Lookman and Moses Simon on both sides of Osimhen in attack. But a better option could have been 4-4-1-1 with Lookman tucked in behind Osimhen as a second striker while Chuckwueze and Simon get a berth on both wings of attack. Lookman scored most of his goals for Atlanta this season by playing less on the wing.


One could argue that injuries which ruled out Victor Boniface and Sadiq Umar deprived Peseiro of opting for an outright 4-4-2 line-up, but Ahmed Musa’s speed and experience could also have been beneficial as a twin striker alongside Osimhen.

Bringing on defenders when the team needed goals


Peseiro also goofed with his substitutions. After an injury forced the replacement of Yusuf with Joe Aribo, the head coach’s next change was a direct swap of defenders.

Even if replacing Ola Aina with Bright Osayi-Samuel was not entirely off, the swap of Sanusi with Calvin Bassey was questionable. Despite Sanusi’s flaws in the game, he kept the left channel open for Nigeria in attack while he was on the pitch. Once he left, Bassey, who plays primarily as a centre-back, struggled to fill his boot.


There were still seven minutes remaining when Peseiro made the changes, and a more attack-minded swap could have yielded a more positive outcome.

Dropping Omeruo for William Troost-Ekong


In recent months, Kenneth Omeruo has been one of the better defenders for the Super Eagles. He has taken to his leadership role in the team and has shown he can partner effectively with any of Semi Ajayi, William Troost-Ekong and Bassey.

But Peseiro opted for an untested pairing of Troost- Ekong and Ajayi. Troost-Ekong had not started a game for the Super Eagles since Nigeria’s 4-0 loss in November 2022.

The PAOK defender was one of the guilty parties in Equatorial Guinea’s goal.

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