When the Nigeria Football Federation appointed Jose Peseiro as the Super Eagles head coach in May 2022, he was presented to the football-crazy public as Jose Peseiro’s best friend.
NFF insiders even claimed that the AS Roma manager had personally recommended his Portuguese compatriot as the best fit for the vacant Nigerian coaching role.
In fairness to Peseiro, he boasts an impressive CV, having served as Real Madrid’s assistant manager and coached Porto, Al Ahly, Sporting Lisbon, SC Braga, Panathinaikos, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, among others.
Still, many were skeptical of his appointment after records showed that Peseiro had never spent two years at any of the teams he managed.
He did not even spend six months in the seat at Porto, Braga, and his second spell at Sporting CP, and was sacked less than three months into his role at Al Ahly.
Interestingly, November 16 – the day Nigeria stumbled to a disappointing 1-1 draw on home soil against Lesotho – marks exactly 18 months that Peseiro has been in charge of the Super Eagles.
However, nothing in Peseiro’s first one-and-a-half years at the helm suggests that he will last another six months directing the affairs of the Nigerian national team.
While he has been blessed with some of Nigeria’s best players in ages, Peseiro has yet to mould the talents at his disposal into a decent team.
There is arguably no department in the Super Eagles squad that has experienced an improvement under the 63-year-old manager.
The goalkeeping department is as error-prone as it was when it cost Augustine Eguavoen his role as interim manager, denying Nigeria the chance to be in Qatar 2022.
The defence may have become even worse: the team has conceded 20 goals in only 14 games during Peseiro’s reign.
By comparison, the Super Eagles conceded three goals in the six games Eguavoen handled and 13 goals in Gernot Rohr’s last 14 games in charge.
The Super Eagles’ lethargic display against Lesotho shows that the team should be doing much more in attack, considering the incredible talents at Peseiro’s beck and call.
Peseiro has done his CV a world of good by staying in his role as Nigeria’s head coach for more than a year.
But how much longer can he hope to stay if the Super Eagles continue to wobble under his watch?
Peseiro escaped the hammer after Nigeria lost four consecutive matches between September last year and March 2023, the most devastating of which was a 0-1 home defeat to Guinea-Bissau in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
A few months ago, the Portuguese tactician also outsmarted his employers when he accepted a pay cut before extending his contract until early next year.
While the NFF may only demand explanations from Peseiro as to why the Super Eagles were woeful against Lesotho in Uyo, the pressure will be sky-high should the team fumble to another disappointing result against Zimbabwe on Sunday.
Should Peseiro avoid the sack after that encounter, there is little about his management style that suggests he will still be in the saddle after the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in January.
His current contract spells clearly that Peseiro will earn a new deal should he steer the Super Eagles to the semifinals in Ivory Coast.
If his Super Eagles cannot overcome lowly Lesotho on home ground, how will they escape the wrath of reigning African champions Senegal, World Cup semifinalists Morocco, AFCON specialists Egypt, tricky Tunisia, and hosts Ivory Coast?
Peseiro’s days as coach of the Super Eagles are numbered, as no one person will be in charge forever. However, only his performances will determine whether he goes on Sunday, after the AFCON, or stays for a jinx-breaking two years.