Don’t give up on Super Eagles, Peseiro, Ekong tell Nigerians

Super Eagles’ Coach, Jose Peseiro and the team captain, William Troost-Ekong, have assured Nigerians that the team would make it out of Group A of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations despite their inability to beat Equatorial Guinea in their opening game on Sunday.

Nigeria had to come from behind to hold Equatorial Guinea to a 1-1 draw at the Allasane Quattara Stadium in Abidjan, but Peseiro said the flow of the game showed that the Super Eagles were better and could have won by a wide margin, if they had taken their chances.

The Portuguese, during the post-match conference, said his team were simply unlucky on the day and would correct their mistakes on Thursday when they take on the hosts, Cote d’Ivoire.

He said: “We hoped to win this match and we did everything to win. This draw doesn’t suit us.

“Our team created a lot of chances, but we didn’t score. We hope that next time, even with fewer opportunities, we will score. We simply must improve our finishing.”

Peseiro said Nigeria would beat Cote d’Ivoire on Thursday if they create the same number of chances as they did against Equatorial Guinea.

Sunday’s draw was the third in competitive internationals for the Super Eagles, after two disappointing results in their opening two World Cup qualifiers in November. They were held at home by Lesotho and then drew away against Zimbabwe.

“Obviously we need to improve finishing, but it is not as if the players meant to miss their chances,” he said, while blaming the hot and humid conditions for slowing down his team.

On the crunch battle against the hosts, Peseiro said, the expected hostile atmosphere would suit his players.

“I think my players prefer to play in front of 60,000 rather than the 8,000 we had today,” he said.

On Southampton loanee, Paul Onuachu, who joined the team six hours before the game, Peseiro said the decision to play the lanky striker was purely tactical.

“The other time the question was why Onuachu played, now is why I didn’t bring him on earlier. Onuachu arrived today 4.30 a.m. in the morning, he didn’t do any training with us.

“We didn’t assess him well before the match. I brought on Onuachu because there was no organisation, he’s a guy strong in the air. It’s not easy putting in a player that arrived 4.30 a.m. in the morning, and 6.00 a.m. in the hotel.”

Also speaking on the game against Equatorial Guinea, stand-in captain, William Troost-Ekong, urged Super Eagles’ fans to continue to support the team, saying that their best was yet to come.

“I just want to say thank you for the support, for the guys that came out there. Of course, we’re disappointed. We feel the same way as you guys. We wanted to win today, but I think we have to look at the positives,” Ekong said.

“Don’t give up on us. We would have won handsomely, if we score all the goal scoring chances we created. We promise a better outing against Cote d’Ivoire.”

Nigeria’s second group game will hold at the Alhassan Quattara Stadium on Thursday by 5.00 p.m.


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