A vast majority of Super Eagles fans have asked the Nigeria Football Federation not to retain head coach Jose Peseiro in an opinion poll conducted by PUNCH Sports Extra following the NFF’s decision to use a social media poll to decide whether to renew his contract or not.
The NFF announced the appointment of Peseiro as the new coach of the Eagles May 15, 2022, replacing Austin Eguavoen, who returned to his Technical Director role at the federation.
The Portuguese coach, who earns $70,000 per month, will see his one-year contract with the federation expire on Friday.
Expectations were high amongst the country’s football-crazy populace when a then top official of the Nigeria Football Federation told journalists in Lagos last year that Peseiro was introduced to the football body by compatriot Jose Mourinho, one of the biggest managers in world football.
“If he wasn’t good, he wouldn’t have been recommended by a top coach as Mourinho,” an official told The PUNCH December 2021, when Peseiro’s name was first mooted for the Eagles job alongside Serbian Mladen Krstajic.
“We spoke to three top coaches and Peseiro, whose name has been going around, is one of the coaches and I can tell you he is a top coach,” former NFF president Amaju Pinnick, whose board employed Peseiro, also told journalists in Lagos.
However, the stats and figures since Peseiro took over the Eagles’ job have been unimpressive, raising doubts over his ability to take the three-time African champions to greater height.
Under the Portuguese, the Eagles recorded their biggest win ever — a 10-0 mauling of minnows Sao Tome and Principe — during the AFCON qualifiers last year.
But they have largely churned out underwhelming performances and have only won four of their nine games since the 67-year-old manager took charge, losing the remaining five, with the side scoring 18 goals and conceding 15.
It was also under Peseiro that the Eagles recorded their worst run in 42 years as they lost four consecutive games, including a shock 1-0 defeat to minnows and 118th-ranked Guinea-Bissau in Abuja last March in a 2023 AFCON qualifier.
Checks by our correspondents showed that the Eagles were ranked 30th in the FIFA rankings when the Portuguese took over in May 2022, but in the latest ranking released by the football governing body in April, Nigeria now ranks 40th in the world.
With the future of the Portuguese uncertain, the country’s football governing body decided to leave it to a public vote, using social media and SMS poll.
The results of a poll conducted by PUNCH Sports Extra gathering results from 100 Nigerians revealed that majority of Nigerians would prefer to see a different manager at the helm of the Eagles’ affairs.
The opinion poll asked Nigerians, ‘Should NFF retain Peseiro as Eagles coach? Yes, No, Undecided?’ and a total of 64 respondents said ‘No’ while 21 said ‘Yes’. Fifteen others said they undecided whether the gaffer should continue with the national team or not.
Despite qualifying the Eagles for next year’s AFCON after a hard-fought and another underwhelming outing by the team, majority of the respondents to our poll, who are keen followers of the team, are unperturbed, insisting that the coach wasn’t worthy to lead the team.
Former Super Eagles star Abdul Sule, who is among the 64 that don’t want the coach in charge, stated, “He (Peseiro) is not consistent and his choice of invited players does not suit his tactics, that is if he has any. We need players that are currently in top form. You must not play in Barcelona to be invited because you don’t invite players that play in big clubs but are not regulars.”
Harrison Jalla, head of Task Force, Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria, who also kicked against renewing Peseiro’s contract, said the coach shouldnt have been given the job in the first place, adding that he isn’t better than the local coaches despite earning a humongous $70, 000 (N53.5m) monthly salary in a country where the poverty rate is at an all-time high.
“Hiring coach Jose Peseiro was in my opinion an act of sabotage to the Super Eagles of Nigeria. The first criteria in hiring a foreign coach must be his pedigree. Peseiro has nothing to add to the Super Eagles. Many of our Indigenous coaches are better than Peseiro. The NFF should invest the $70k monthly salary on our indigenous,” Jalla told PUNCH Sports Extra.
Sports analyst Ufuoma Osusu says he’ll prefer former U-17 coach Emmanuel Amuneke given the job ahead of next year’s AFCON in Ivory Coast.
“Between now and the 2023 AFCON is six months away, so, let Emmanuel Amuneke take full charge and forget the consortium of coaches that ruined our qualification to the Qatar World Cup, let Finidi (George) wait a while, we need to avoid rushing people,” Osusu added.
A fan Bunmi Akinsemola stated, “The problem with the NFF is that we can always trust them to replace a bad coach with a failed coach. So, I’d rather say, if you can’t get a clearly better coach than Peseiro, then leave him till AFCON 2024. It will cost us little financially, but I really don’t see him taking us through the World Cup qualifiers successfully or even the World Cup except he can do a (Clemens) Westerhof and turn the fortunes of the Super Eagles around given the long time he’d have been in charge.”
Sports journalist Sulaimon Alao didn’t mince words about the Portuguese’s future with the team.
“It’s should not be up for debate at all. No fan of the team has been pleased with the way the team. Peserio does not deserve a new deal,” Alao said.
However, some other respondents backed the coach to continue on the job after qualifying the team for next year’s AFCON.
“Let’s see what he can do at the AFCON first,” sports journalist Pius Ayinor stated. “Moreover, we don’t really have the cash to hire a higher quality for now.”
Another journalist Afolabi Gambari added, ”As much as I don’t like him, I don’t think the NFF should let him go at the moment because they will be making the same mistake they made with Gernot Rohr. The AFCON is months away and the World Cup qualifiers will start soon. He should stay on but must be monitored,” Afolabi Gambari.
Bukky Olamide, who is among the 15 respondents who are undecided about the future of the coach, is more concerned about the huge monthly salary of the Portuguese.
“I don’t even know if we should be blaming the coach or the players because the situation was almost similar under the previous manager but my only concern is the hefty money they are paying him.
“There is no guaranty that if they bring in a new coach things will get better and I am not happy with the money we are paying him. It is more of the NFF doing what they feel is right in the situation because they are the ones paying, but the money is much.”