The North Americans dominated the West Africans for much of their encounter and could have won with a wider margin but for the brilliance of goalkeeper Francis Uzoho
Head coach Jose Peseiro has admitted that the Super Eagles played terribly in the first half of their friendly match against Mexico because of a fault in the team’s set-up.
Mexico humbled Nigeria 2-1 inside the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in the early hours of Sunday.
Peseiro, a big fan of the 3-5-2 formation, deployed the trio of Chidozie Awaziem, William Troost-Ekong, and Semi Ajayi at the heart of the defence flanking them with wing-backs Moses Simon and Calvin Bassey.
The set-up failed spectacularly as Mexico found joy through the Eagles’ midfield, blunted the Nigerian attack, and created the better chances, taking the lead in the 12th minute through Santiago Gimenez.
The Eagles did not muster a single shot on target in that opening half.
A change of strategy to a back four and another four in midfield, however, improved the Eagles’ fortunes, with Feyenoord’s forward Cyriel Dessers heading home Nigeria’s equaliser minutes into the second half.
An unfortunate Troost-Ekong own-goal handed returned the advantage to Mexico and sealed their second consecutive victory over the West Africans.
But Peseiro admits he liked his side’s second-half performance more than the first, noting the reasoning behind his change of tactics.
“We cannot hide it; we played a very bad first half,” Peseiro told ESPN.
“We had five players in defence, and they had two players playing forward and the two players controlled the five. They were pressing and we did not solve it. We cannot have that.
“We decided that if the two was controlling the three, then we have to make it a four and have more control in midfield.
“And it helped us take control of the game because as a coach, my philosophy is that I like control, to control the game.”
The Super Eagles will next face Ecuador in the second of two friendly matches in the United States before returning to Nigeria for two Afcon-qualifying games against Sierra Leone and Mauritius in June.
Peseiro is the first Super Eagles coach in almost three decades to lose his first game in charge.