The former international is the head of the football body’s technical arm and is charged with creating a direction for football development in the country
Augustine Eguavoen, the Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), has offered his insights into the ongoing 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote d’Ivoire, focusing on the Super Eagles’ performances and addressing questions about head coach Jose Peseiro’s job security.
Impressed by the Super Eagles’ showing in the tournament thus far, Eguavoen highlighted Nigeria’s commendable performance in Group A.
The team secured two victories and a draw in their initial three matches, securing a second-place finish.
Notably, they managed to find the back of the net thrice while conceding only once, showcasing a robust defence led by goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali.
Eguavoen, expressing satisfaction with the team’s defensive record, emphasised the need for improvement in converting chances into goals.
In an interview with the Vanguard, Eguavoen acknowledged the difficulty of excelling at the AFCON, stating,
“The Eagles are playing with caution. It’s a delicate stage. You cannot afford to lose points.
“If you lost three points, you would be walking a tightrope. The only thing we’re missing is the conversion of chances into the net. When you don’t convert your chances, the end comes to hurt you.
“We’ll grow with game after game. The Super Eagles are a strong team. Nigerians need to be patient.
“If you look at the performance the only thing that we are missing is that we are not putting the ball in the net, which can turn around to hurt any team because goal is paramount.
“Defensively, we are very solid; the goal-keeping department is solid. The organisation of the team is good. By the time we meet bigger and tougher opposition, we will grow with the game.”
Eguavoen also addressed the issue of Jose Peseiro’s job security.
While the agreement between Peseiro and the NFF is for the head coach to continue in his role if he guides the team to the AFCON semifinals, rumours are circulating that Peseiro may not receive a new contract even if Nigeria lift the trophy.
Maintaining a neutral stance, Eguavoen claimed ignorance of the inner decisions of the NFF but affirmed his support for any choice made by the federation.
Eguavoen stressed the importance of maintaining a positive narrative, whether Peseiro stays or departs, to avoid demoralising the coach.
“If that is the decision of the federation, then I stand by it,” the 1994 AFCON winner added.
“One thing that I advise now is that whether Peseiro leaves now or later, let’s say positive things about him. If he keeps hearing negative things about himself he gets demoralised.
“Even if we are going to part ways, let’s do so amicably. There is always tomorrow. If he wins AFCON for us, then we say he should go; he will go to a bigger country.
“Let’s be careful of what we say. Let’s speak positively about the boys and the coaches.”
It would be recalled that Eguavoen, then the interim manager, led Nigeria to the last edition of the AFCON in Cameroon.
The Super Eagles won all their group matches under Eguavoen’s charge but stumbled out in the round of 16 after a tough 1-0 loss to Tunisia.