The Eagles once again show they can be anything but super as the free fall in friendlies continues in the double loss in the USA, IKENWA NNABUOGOR writes…
The fans are back to bad mouthing the once beloved Super Eagles again after losing two straight games in the friendlies against Mexico and Ecuador in the US cities of Arlington and New Jersey with the new manager Jose Peseiro looking helpless in the dugout.
Friday morning’s 1-0 loss to less fancied Ecuador was the eleventh winless result in the friendlies for Eagles since their 1-0 win to Egypt in Asaba on March 26, 2019.
KRC Genk striker Paul Onuachu had fired a belter from the edge of the Pharaohs vital area just before proceedings had barely begun after a sweet tee-off by John Ogu to hand the Eagles their first victory in the last 12 friendly encounters Eagles had played.
This is one bad record Eagles should not be associated with and can only be connected to minnows struggling to make any meaningful impact but alas, it’s the Eagles that this sacrilegious tale is told of.
Eagles have been variously dismissed in some quarters as misfiring and mocked with a new nickname ‘Super Chickens’, but it appears the Eagles are comfortable with struggling to impress lately even against less illustrious countries.
Eagles of old were ruthless in precision, delivery and execution and were feared by opponents even before a ball was kicked, but how mediocrity managed to creep into the Eagles making the once-upon-a-time fifth best soccer nation in the world remains a mystery till date.
Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro finally got down to work after settling a dark cloud with the apex body Nigeria Football Federation over his Eagles job, but was handed a terrible start losing two friendly games in a row.
This, in truth, was not a good start for a coach whose association with the national team was that of a yoyo after talks for the tough job also extended to an array of top-class coaches including former FC Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde.
But it was Peseiro who the egg heads at the NFF finally settled amidst controversies that were not in favour of other more illustrious coaches who showed interest for the top post.
Peseiro got much more compelling tasks ahead of him as the 2023 AFCON qualifiers draw nearer and the far from impressed fans whose patience with the Super Eagles has been hanging on a thin thread will surely take a closer look at the new coach.
History wasn’t so kind to Peseiro losing to Ecuador in Eagles first-ever encounter with the South Americans, who will be facing another African country, Senegal, in the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year and the Portuguese will have no choice than to re-write this terrible history.
Events surrounding the Eagles lately have not done anything to cheer the fans and every other shareholder in Nigeria, who are yet to get over the shock of losing the World Cup ticket to arch rivals Ghana, before a hugely expectant full house in Abuja.
Franco-German coach Gernot Rohr endured a stormy romance with the three-time African champions and eventually shown the door, before successor Augustine Eguavoen continued Rohr’s struggle after which Peseiro talks were revisited.
All is in the past now as the open wounds will be all Peseiro’s to heal and bring back smiling faces once again.
Serious soccer business returns again after the Abuja debacle with the 2023 AFCON qualifiers against Sierra Leone and Sao Tome & Principe and the Eagles will be hard pressed to redeem themselves again before fans who have lost confidence in them.
That will be the brutal acid test for Peseiro and it remains to be seen if the former Venezuela coach will change things and begin a gradual process of making the Eagles super again.
He has put behind him the disappointment of a poor start by decisively beating Sierra Leone and Sao Tome & Principe to begin the journey to Cote d’Ivoire on a sound note.
Eagles’ “Unfriendly” 11
The team have not won their last 11 friendly matches –
1. Nigeria 0 – 0 Zimbabwe
2. Senegal 1-0 Nigeria
3. Ukraine 2 – 2 Nigeria
4. Brazil 1 – 1 Nigeria
5. Nigeria 0 – 1 Algeria
6. Nigeria 1 – 1 Tunisia
7. Nigeria 0 – 1 Cameroon
8. Cameroon 0 – 0 Nigeria
9. Mexico 4 – 0 Nigeria
10. Mexico 2 – 1 Nigeria
11. Ecuador 1 – 0 Nigeria