*Ahmed Musa downplays effect of playing in empty stadium
Super Eagles Head Coach, Jose Santos Peseiro, has tasked the Super Eagles to show they are better than Sierra Leone in the Africa Cup 2023 qualifier.
The Portuguese threw the challenge yesterday when he addressed the media at an open parley in Abuja ahead of today’s AFCON 2023 Group A qualifying clash with Leone Stars at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium.
He spoke when offering insights into the tactical nous the Eagles will employ against their fellow West Africans in this their first Group A clash.
The coach insisted that even if the Eagles are better than the Sierra Leoneans, he challenged them to prove that by winning the fixture convincingly.
“Our team is better than Sierra Leone, that’s all I can tell you. But we need to show that which is what football is all about. You can create 20 opportunities in a match but you need to score, while your opponent can create just one chance, score and win the match. We need to show all we have done in training in the match on Thursday by focusing on our dynamics, approach and tactics,” Peseiro said.
The former coach of Venezuela, who lost his first two friendly games against Mexico and Ecuador said he accepted the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) offer to handle the national team because he has confidence in the Super Eagles.
The coach, who said he preferred attacking with two strikers and high-pressure formation, said he would need more time to train the players in order for them to know one and other.
“I want to improve our team. We can improve the team in three years with good organisation and tactics. We need to develop the programme to improve the players. We need to build different ideas and bring a system that they are comfortable with,” he said.
Also speaking yesterday, Eagles Captain, Ahmed Musa, downplayed the effect of today’s match being played without spectators as a punishment for pitch invasion by the crowd after the World Cup qualifier against Ghana on March 26.
The Fatih Karagumruk of Turkey striker said that playing against Sierra Leone in a stadium without spectators would not deter the team because the players were used to that as they played in empty stadiums in their respective leagues for almost one and a half years during COVID-19 lockdown.
“That is not a new thing. It is the price we have to pay for not going to the World Cup. Even though we are going to play in an empty stadium, we have to ginger our fans to restore confidence in the national team. We have to do everything within our best to try and win the game on Thursday,” Musa said.
He conceded that the match against Sierra Leone will be difficult because the visitors will ooze confidence in Abuja having forced the Eagles to a 4-4 draw in a World Cup qualifier in Benin by coming back from 4-1 to tie the game.
He also described the appointment of Peseiro as a game changer saying the Portuguese believed in the capacity of the team to win the Africa Cup of Nations.
“With the kind of players that we have right now, it is just concentration that we need and someone that believes in us. I want Nigerians to still believe in the players. The coach has said his target is to win the Nations Cup. It is left for the players to prove what he said we can do. With the kind of training I saw in the last two days, I know the Super Eagles will be different from the Super Eagles you saw in the past. Under this manager, a lot of things will change,” Musa assured Nigerians.