In two games, the Super Eagles showed flashes of brilliance and the recalcitrant trait of waiting to be broken before applying a cover.
Jose Peseiro has started well in terms of performance. While this could be a reflection of how everybody comports in a new environment and when a big visitor is around, one would only hope it lasts long enough.
For the first time in some years, there’s a semblance of adaptability and in-game situational reading from the Nigerian bench. Tactics and systems are being switched to plug loopholes and players are brought in to make direct impacts.
Peseiro has also shown to have impressed on the team in the areas of pressing, ball retention and against Ecuador, there was far improved organisation.
The old nemesis of conceding early and pouring all into chasing a game may be a trait the Portuguese coach will like to beat off but the positives outweigh their negatives in both games.
Against Mexico, the team showed it can rally itself and put up a good fight. Local players also showed there’s something worth seeing there if opportunities come by, while some players also made a mockery of their early cancellation by the often quick-to-judge Nigerian fans.
In two friendly games against top opposition, Francis Uzoho has shown how commanding he can be. His passing was much more improved and his left leg is even put to better use now. His reflexes also don’t reflect a goalkeeper finding game time hard to come by. If his performance can be this good without regular minutes, he must quickly realise he needs game time to consolidate on his place.
If Calvin Bassey’s Europa League stardom wasn’t convincing enough, he has shown his critics he’s far from that Abuja debacle. Two solid performances in which he was the best player must give Peseiro an idea of what to make of the Rangers man.
He is one of the Super Eagles’ brightest channels to goalscoring opportunities, and offers two solutions in one man, from a coaching perspective, and two competitions in one feet, from a player’s point of view.
Nigerians have asked to see him in the left centre back position where he flourished at Rangers in the concluded season.
What the United States friendlies have also proven is the level of commitment of some players to the team. In national assignments, commitment may be just as key as talent and some players have shown an unflinching desire to represent the national team. This makes them difficult to drop or ignore.
The coaching crew must have a lot to chew from both games against World Cup-bound teams and must look to the future with positivity.
When the house is full, with the right mixture gotten to make a perfect broth, and the flexibility so far shown by Peseiro, this team promises just so much for two early friendly losses to be taken as a chaotic denouement.
Although the future is never assured especially when it comes to the Super Eagles as results change with the click of the finger, hope isn’t too much a risk to take at the moment.
Welcome Jose Peseiro, and don’t forget your starter’s pack.