‘Give Super Eagles a breathing space’

by Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor, Abuja

Legend Felix Owolabi has said Nigerians should not rate the performance of Super Eagles head coach, Jose Peseiro, with the game against Leone Stars of Sierra Leone at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, on Thursday.

The former Green Eagles player stated this to remind Nigerians this is Peseiro’s first competitive game with a new team undergoing a reform. The ex-player, who was among the Nigerian squad that won the first African Cup of Nations (AFCON) diadem in 1980, noted that the Portuguese coach needs all the support he can get to succeed.

According to him, the Super Eagles players performed very well individually and it would be out of place to judge a team which is in its embryonic stage. “It is too early to choose any adjective to describe the Eagles’ because now, they are a new team and they played well as individuals. We just employed a new coach and this is his first competitive game,” Owolabi told NAN.

“So, we can’t assess him with just a game, he needs our support to succeed. As someone who has seen it all in football, it will be difficult for me to pass judgment on him. The coach just gathered the team.

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Peseiro, during the opening Group A match with Sierra Leone in the AFCON qualifying fixture in Abuja, made five changes including Oghenekaro Etebo substituting Umar Sadiq, Kenneth Omeruo for TroostEkong, Ademola Lookman for Samuel Chukwueze, Terem Moffi for Victor Osimhen, and Abdullahi Shehu for Ola Aina.

However, Owolabi allayed any form of criticism on the changes made by Peseiro against the Leone Stars stressing that the new Eagles coach made the move to correct errors made in the starting lineup. He added, “During the game, the coach made some changes and the reason is that he did not get it right, so, he needed a change, to reinforce.

For me, the team needs breathing space.” Meanwhile, Nigeria placed second following the 2-1 win against Sierra Leone in Group A, with Guinea Bissau on top with a 5-1 thrashing of Baciro Candé’s team, travel to Morocco to take on Sao Tome and Principe in their second AFCON qualifiers on Monday, June 13, 2022.

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