The Nigerian national team will be expected to put up a good showing at the continental championship set to kick off early next year
Former Nigeria international Segun Odegbami has pointed out the weaknesses that coach Jose Peseiro must work on if the Super Eagles are to be successful at the Africa Cup of Nations in January, Soccernet.ng reports.
Nigeria will be among the favourites to wrestle the AFCON title from reigning champions Senegal when hostilities begin in Ivory Coast.
The Super Eagles, however, did not impress many when they stumbled to two score draws against Lesotho and Zimbabwe in November in the opening rounds of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
And Odegbami, the top goalscorer at the 1978 and 1980 AFCON, insists that the Super Eagles’ biggest problems are in the midfield and goalkeeping departments.
“The present Super Eagles are not strong in two major areas of the field – the mid-field and goalkeeping,” the former Shooting Stars winger wrote in the Guardian.
“There is little that can be done about the team’s strength without the influence of a few players with exceptional skills and ability in certain areas of the team.
“Presently, there is a dearth of creative and attacking midfield players who can hold and distribute the balls well.
“Goalkeeping has become a problem only because Peseiro refuses to see the difference between an efficient goalkeeper and one whose only qualification is his physical frame.
“The last goal against Zimbabwe, scored directly from a free kick 30 metres from his goal clearly exposed Uzoho’s weakness. It is an elementary goalkeeping error.”
Odegbami, however, remains optimistic that the Super Eagles will be ready to do well at the AFCON and has urged the Nigeria Football Federation not to sack coach Pesiero.
The 1980 AFCON winner believes Napoli striker Victor Osimhen can lead the Super Eagles to continental glory in Ivory Coast.
“Nigeria is blessed with a lot of good players presently,” Odegbami continued.
“With a little bit of luck, more patience and the time shortly before AFCON 2024 used properly to build a stronger team, plus the return of one of the deadliest strikers on the planet, Victor Osimhen, in the team, Nigeria shall improve steadily into AFCON 2024.
“In January, the team will use the group matches of the championship to get better and possibly go on to win AFCON 2024.
“They will then gain the essential confidence to play more consistently and (at the end of AFCON) establish a stronger team that shall be able to go into the World Cup qualifying matches with more strength and purpose and qualify for the World Cup as true champions of African football.”
Nigeria have won the AFCON three times, with the Eagles’ last triumph in the competition coming in South Africa in 2013.