Nigerian football has been thrown into shock after the Super Eagles were held to a 1-1 home draw by Lesotho in a 2026 World Cup qualifier, with anger directed at Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro.
Nigeria had to come from behind against Lesotho, ranked 153rd by FIFA, in the game played on Thursday in the southern Nigerian city of Uyo
Despite the absence through injury of star forward Victor Osimhen of Napoli, Nigeria had been expected to make a winning start to their World Cup qualifying campaign.
Peseiro, 63, has been made the scapegoat.
The well-travelled former Venezuela coach was never a popular choice to head the three-time African champions, but the decision to extend his contract till next year’s Africa Cup of Nations has drawn criticism.
Nigeria had won all three head-to-head meetings against the southern Africans before Thursday’s draw.
Former Nigeria international defender Ifeanyi Udeze said he was enraged by the “unacceptable” result.
“This was our first World Cup qualifier in front of the home fans and we couldn’t beat Lesotho.
“This was a match not against Cameroon or the Ivory Coast or Ghana. This was a loss.”
Analyst David Mikel Okoye blamed the disappointing start by the Eagles squarely on Peseiro.
“That the Super Eagles will go nowhere with Jose Peseiro’s absolutely limited tactical nous is no secret,” he said. “The man does not know how best to utilize this team and he keeps picking the wrong personnel per game with a limiting formation.”
Sports journalist Wale Ajayi said it was a mistake to renew the contract of the Portuguese coach.
“Peseiro has to go, he’s a bad coach,” he said. “Renewing his contract was renewing disaster.”
Peseiro himself blamed bad luck for the draw.
“I am sad of course, disappointed by the result, but my team tried to do the maximum,” he said.
“We had 76% of the ball possession against 24%, the opponents only had two chances to score and scored a goal. We had many chances to score. It was bad luck,” he added.
Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and was knocked out of the last Africa Cup of Nations at the last-16 stage by Tunisia.
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