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World Cup

Why Jose Peseiro must be sacked




A stitch in time, saves nine is a popular adage. So also is another adage – “For want of a nail” which is a proverb reminding that seemingly unimportant acts or omissions can have grave and unforeseen consequences.

For those not too familiar with the primary school poem, it comes from a longer proverb about a battle during which the loss of a nail in a horseshoe leads to the loss of a horse, which leads to the loss of the rider, which leads to the loss of the battle, which in turn leads to the loss of a whole kingdom.

This is very apt in the current Super Eagles’ situations regarding the Africa Cup of Nations in January and the remaining eight matches of the 2026 World Cup qualification.

It is 10 years since Nigeria last won the prestigious continental title, the Africa Cup of Nations. Another edition is just 47 days away from this Monday 27 November.

Nigeria Super Eagles are in Group A along with hosts, Cote d’Ivoire and two of the three Guinea teams in the continent – Equatorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau.


In a normal equation, the Super Eagles are expected to revel along with hosts, take one of the group’s two slots, and advance to the knock-out stage.

Considering the Super Eagles’ match results in the last four matches since October, the signals are clear that nothing much should be expected.

The team barely struggled to escape possible defeats against lowly ranked football teams such as Saudi Arabia, Mozambique, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe. The previously lively side and pride of football connoisseurs have been turned into a laborious outfit.

The situation becomes a double jeopardy as not just Nigeria’s outing at the Africa Cup of Nations is a grave risk, but the possible non-qualification for the glamorous FIFA World Cup in 2026 looms large.

The major cause is the coach in charge, the Portuguese José Peseiro Vitor dos Santos Peseiro, unqualified personnel who has been saddled with what is easily the ‘second most important job in the country’ – apologies to Niall Edworthy, author of the book: “Second Most Important Job in the Country” -an account of England football managers.


Peseiro came as Nigeria’s first-ever Portuguese coach and in succession to Franco-German Gernot Rohr, the national team coach with the longest tenure. His pedigree at the appointment did not suggest his qualifications for the job.

He had only previously handled two lowly-rated national teams – Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Peseiro’s other jobs were being assistant to other coaches and handling clubs in the fourth-tier Portuguese league.

He possibly got the Nigerian job under the benefit of the doubt. The results have been largely disappointing. In 15 matches to date, his Super Eagles won just five matches across all competitions. Of the five, only two against Africa’s least-ranked team, Sao Tome e Principe were convincing.

The Super Eagles labored to narrow victories at home and on neutral ground to Sierra Leone (2-1 and 3-2) and had to depend on the fortuity of a penalty kick to beat Guinea Bissau who had earlier shocked Nigeria with a 1-0 defeat in Abuja.

The benefit of the doubt probably explains why Peseiro was given the Super Eagles’ job. But performances have not squared with expectations. The latest results have cast doubts on the possibility of Nigeria navigating what should have been their easiest path ever to the World Cup.


A supposedly easy task has turned a Greek puzzle. For the first time ever, Lesotho got a point in an encounter with Super Eagles. So also was Zimbabwe which only just returned to international football after being previously banned by FIFA.

The two teams were supposed to be the ‘softest’ of the five Nigeria was supposed to face on the road to World Cup 2026. From the call-up to camp to deployment of players to the field, Peseiro got all wrong.

He invited some players that have being sidelined even by their lowly clubs. An example was Joe Aribo who plays outside the English Premiership for Southampton in the lower division English Championship. He has had mere cameo appearances for his lower division club, but found good enough for Nigeria’s lead brand by Peseiro.

Goalkeeping is the weakest point of the Super Eagles. Yet, Peseiro, against all logic, stuck to just one out of the three he called up, even in friendly matches where he ought to have explored all options by giving playing time to the other two.

Taiwo Awoniyi, already injured and sidelined by his club, was called up by Peseiro who also fielded him as a starter in a World Cup qualifier. What was the justification? In the Lesotho match, the groin injury got aggravated and now the player is out of service for months!


It is needless to point out that the player is now out of the Africa Cup of Nations in January.

As it has turned out, the Super Eagles’ possibility of scaling the heights at the Afcon 2023 is highly doubtful under Peseiro.

The NFF may have to cough out some amount to terminate the short-term contract with Peseiro. This should not matter as the country stands to gain more from the termination of the contract whose current validity is February 2024.

Qualification for the World Cup guarantees the NFF, at least $2 million. Featuring and crashing out at the group stage is $10 million bringing to the coffers of the football federation a minimum of $12 million.

This and possibly more will only be realistic without the services of Peseiro. Why then hesitate to dispense off the services? After all, when the horse is too old or weak to pull the cart, the slaughter man decides its fate.


Looking at the antecedents, it is obvious that Peseiro did not have the right credentials to justify the conferment of the Super Eagles’ responsibility on him. He came to Nigeria just to improve his deficient CV.

He admitted in an interview with Sky Sports last month, that he missed silverware in his career as a player and as coach. But he expects to win his first-ever silverware by taking the Super Eagles to the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire.

How do you expect a man who cannot get to the top of Olumo Rock in Abeokuta to climb Mount Everest?

Our expectations have reached a saturation point. No amount of planning and suggestion can improve Peseiro. It will constitute an unjustifiable drain on national resources to continue to retain him.

He has given Nigeria the worst start in a World Cup qualification in 50 years. The latest result means that for the first time ever, Nigeria has not won five World Cup qualifying matches in a row, even against a lowly-ranked team. The Super Eagles under him has become a global laughing stock.


The only team his technical knowledge is capable of overcoming is Sao Tome & Principe, one of the lowest-ranked teams in Africa.

Unlike his more successful predecessors like Father Tiko, Clemens Westerhoff, and Nigeria’s home-grown Stephen Keshi who scouted for local players and polished them to international prominence, Peseiro suffers from fixation against home-grown talents.

Before he pushes us further down the abyss, it is better we show him the red card. Without Peseiro, the Super Eagles can bounce back into the international reckoning. Let’s stop Peseiro before he destroys our precious national asset, the Super Eagles.

Nigeria Under Jose Peseiro
28 May 2022 Mexico 2-1 Nigeria
2 June 2022 Ecuador 1-0 Nigeria
9 June 2022 Nigeria 2-1 Sierra Leone
13 June 2022 Sao Tome & Principe 0-10 Nigeria
27 September 2022 Algeria 2-1 Nigeria
9 November 2022 Costa Rica 0-0 Nigeria
17 November 2022 Portugal 4-0 Nigeria
24 March 2023 Nigeria 0-1 Guinea Bissau
27 March 2023 Guinea Bissau 0-1 Nigeria
18 June 2023 Sierra Leone 2-3 Nigeria
10 September 2023 Nigeria 6-0 Sao Tome & Principe
13 October 2023 Nigeria 2-2 Saudi Arabia
16 October 2023 Mozambique 2-3 Nigeria
16 November 2023 Nigeria 1-1 Lesotho
19 November 2023 Zimbabwe 1-1 Nigeria


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

World Cup

Home grounds of Barcelona, Real Madrid among 11 proposed World Cup 2030 venues



- Real Madrid celebrate winning the Champions League - Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - June 2, 2024 General view inside the stadium and Real Madrid's Toni Kroos during the Champions League celebration with fans REUTERS/Susana Vera/File Photo

Spain’s soccer federation (RFEF) has proposed 11 stadiums as candidates to host matches during the 2030 World Cup, including the home arenas of LaLiga clubs Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

Spain, who will co-host the tournament with Portugal and Morocco as well as centenary hosts Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, will also have 45 additional grounds as team bases, the RFEF said on Friday.

Other LaLiga clubs whose home arenas have made the list include Sevilla, Malaga, Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao, Las Palmas and promoted Espanyol.

Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium, despite being the fifth-largest stadium in LaLiga with a capacity of 49,430, was not included in the list of potential venues.

“In order to define the venues, all the possibilities have been analysed, including the option of expanding to 13, an option that must be taken unanimously by the three federations,” the RFEF said in a statement.


The tournament will have a maximum of 20 venues, the RFEF added.

Co-hosts Morocco last year announced plans to build a stadium near Casablanca and upgrade six others before the World Cup.


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World Cup

It’s 28 years since Super Eagles’ worst competitive defeat



Denmark unexpectedly beat Nigeria 4-1


Denmark face Germany on Saturday hoping to recreate their famous victory at the Euro 92 when they secured their first title, although they were the underdogs.

 This day 28 June, a day before their Round of 16 Euro 2024 clash with Germany also brings the memory of their famous Round of 16 win over Nigeria at the France ‘98 World Cup.

Their 4-1 defeat of the Super Eagles remains the biggest defeat that the Nigerians have gotten in a competitive duel in nearly 30 years.

 It was an unexpected result considering that the Super Eagles contributed to the elimination of one of the tournaments favourites, Spain.


A goal down under two minutes and two down under 12 minutes presented a huge mountain for the Super Eagles to climb.

 What a twist of an event most had thought the Nigerian team would be the dominant side.

The world was awaiting a match-up of Nigeria and Brazil in the quarter-finals.

It was to rekindle the memorable encounter of both countries’ Olympic teams two years earlier when Nigeria famously defeated Brazil 4-3 in a golden goal decider at the semi-finals.

     A rematch at the quarter finals of France ’98 would have brought up a novel match-up of reigning Olympic gold medallists and reigning World Cup holders. It turned out a mere dream.


 Nigeria’s manager, Bora Milutinović fielded a starting line-up with seven midfielders and no attacker.

Could that had been a new tactical formation in football in a knockout game Nigeria had to score and win? Call it the 3-7-0. Call it overconfidence.

      Even Nigeria’s manager was reportedly half-kiddingly remarked before the match: “We’ve got a very important match coming up in Nantes” – a reference to a possible quarter-final meeting  with Brazil.

  Member of the team, Mutiu Adepoju told Sports Village Square that poor tactical approach cost Nigeria the match.     “The game was taken as a routine one and hence, no special preparation for it.

  “The coaches did not even border to get insight into the Denmark team”, said Adepoju who was called ‘Headmaster’  for his heading skill. It was with an header that he scored Nigeria’s first goal that put scores at 1-1 in a 3-2 defeat of Spain in the opening match.


  He dismissed a well publicised claim by teammate, Taribo West that the players had busy nights with women prior to the match.

  He however admitted that there was discontentment in camp and that the coaching crew lost control of the team.

  It came light that the players did not sleep all night as the now very familiar agitations for enhanced match bonuses came up.

As published in the on-line version of Al-Jazeera in 2014, Sunday Oliseh was quoted as saying: “We wasted too much energy on the eve of our game haggling over bonus, something like that should not be the focus at a big tournament like the World Cup. “We lost that game off the pitch and not on the pitch.”           

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World Cup

FIFA awards win to Niger after Congo no-show in World Cup qualifier




FIFA has awarded Niger a win and the full three points in a 2026 World Cup soccer qualifier with Congo that was postponed this month, the world governing body said on Wednesday.

Congo had refused to travel to Kinshasa, capital of neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, for their home game after their stadium in Brazzaville was deemed not to have met hosting requirements.

Niger did travel, and were awarded the game 3-0, which leaves them second in Group E on six points, three behind leaders Morocco. Congo are stuck on zero points from their three matches.

Only the top team in each of the nine pools is guaranteed a place at the expanded World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has decided to declare the match lost by forfeit 3-0 by the representative team of Congo,” FIFA said in a statement.


It said the Alphonse Massemba-Debat Stadium in Brazzaville could not have been used until renovations, including the laying of a new pitch, were completed

Congolese Sports Minister Hughes Nguilondile declared the stadium ready in late May, but it was deemed too late to move the fixture. FIFA ordered it to go ahead in Kinshasa as originally planned, leading to Congo’s withdrawal in protest.


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