The coming days will surely get interesting for the new Super Eagles supremo Jose Peseiro and the double friendlies against African powerhouse Algeria could well define what lies in the future for the Portuguese coach, writes IKENWA NNABUOGOR…
The real business of tinkering Nigeria’s football team is finally here for Jose Peseiro as two-time African champions Algeria welcome their arch-rivals in the cities of Constantine and Oran for two friendly games.
Peseiro and his men will be guests to the CHAN team of the North Africans later today in Constantine and test their might once again against their 2019 African Cup of Nations finals killjoy – their main team – four days later in Oran.
The games are precursors to the Super Eagles biggest test under Peseiro against his native Portugal on November 17 as things will surely get tougher for the new boss.
But before the top-profile clash against World Cup-bound Portugal – the first-ever between the two countries – the Eagles are back to testing their might against a stiffer opposition that will determine if Peseiro will hang on to his job or look elsewhere going forward.
Tough as it seems, as usual, Peseiro’s fortunes are not helped by the massive withdrawal of star players occasioned by injuries but then the job must be done and judgments passed.
Algeria are Nigeria’s perennial rivals dating back many years and the memories of back-to-back losses at AFCON and the last friendly in 2019, still fresh, Peseiro and his men are hard pressed to break even and get their own pound of flesh.
Victories against Les Fennecs will definitely boost the confidence of Peseiro and his men to go into the November 17 clash in Lisbon with their tails up.
Both countries are casualties of the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers and will come at each other in this seemingly “losers” game to restore some national pride.
Algeria boast of some of the finest players on the continent with many of them scattered in Europe and doing well individually and collectively as a team and will not be kind with softness on the pitches of the host cities against opponents they love to beat.
It will not be business as usual the last time against less illustrious Sao Tome & Principe Islands as Eagles came away with 10-0 cricket score and the Algerian test will surely show Peseiro how football is like in Africa.
Eagles are a global brand with subsequent coaches after the highly successful Dutch coach Clemens Westerhof struggling to match such standard, the fans are waiting for Peseiro with hearty cheers or the big stick as the Portuguese gradually gets down to the brass tacks.
In truth, Peseiro should be star-struck as he has quality players to choose from are and therefore, he will not have excuses not to sail with the ship exporting crude oil.
SSC Napoli power striker Victor Osimhen leads a pack of withdrawals that also included the latest withdrawal, Wilfred Ndidi, but in on-form Lorient striker Terem Moffi, the Eagles have a quick and interesting attacking line that can sway victory their way.
Still lacking numbers in the midfield, things may not really change there but in the wings, returnee Germany-based star Chidera Ejuke could form a great partnership with Atalanta new signing Ademola Lookman to stretch the Fennecs to some appreciable limit.
Everton star Alex Iwobi will have to help out his new boss under whom he has covered every blade of grass thus far to make something worthwhile out of this stiff test.
It remains to be seen if Peseiro will reproduce Iwobi’s Everton’s commanding presence in the midfield to make up for the lack of numbers in the middle.
At the back four, Peseiro did not bow to pressure to shut out stand-in captain William Troost-Ekong despite his lack of playing time at Watford, leaving the 62-year-old Portuguese banking on experience rather than game competitiveness.
Germany-based versatile defender Kevin Akpoguma returns since his benefactor Gernot Rohr left and it will remain to be seen if Peseiro will have a closer look at him to see if he will remain in his plans going forward or intensify search for one or two additions in that department.
The goalkeeping is another huge headache for Peseiro and the country’s team, but Peseiro appears to go for experience once again by fielding returnee first choice Maduka Okoye and Francis Uzoho and keeping the Israel-based super regular Adebayo Adeleye to learn from the dug-out.
Experienced as the Portuguese has proved to be, this test may not really consume him as they say, football is 90 minutes of action on the pitch.
Interestingly, Peseiro has refused to believe he has a disjointed team for the match-ups in Constantine and Oran, rather he has exuded confidence he’s got a team who want to win every game they play.
By the Eagles visit to Lisbon for Portugal next month, many of the posers surrounding Peseiro will be answered.
Surely, the Super Eagles are not a holiday destination for this Portuguese coach, who still has a lot to prove to the fans.