The West African giants are the only unbeaten team remaining at the continental championship
Super Eagles head coach Jose Peseiro has reserved high praise for the Nigerian duo of Victor Osimhen and Ademola Lookman following their performances at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, Soccernet.ng reports.
Osimhen arrived at the AFCON as the reigning Africa Footballer of the Year, but he has found goals hard to come by in Cote d’Ivoire.
The Napoli striker has only one goal to his name – scored in the 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea on matchday one – while he has had three other efforts cancelled by the VAR.
While Osimhen’s goals dried up, Lookman stepped up to the plate, netting three crucial goals during the knockout rounds to propel Nigeria to the final of the competition.
Peseiro is pleased with Lookman, acknowledging that the Atalanta forward is an influential member of the Super Eagles squad with his contribution.
The former Real Madrid assistant coach is, however, convinced that Osimhen is the most outstanding Nigerian footballer at the moment.
“Our biggest figure is Osimhen, who works hard for the team: attacking, defending, and providing a lot of depth,” Peseiro said.
He (Lookman) is a very big figure, but the main figure is Osimhen, who forms a team with collective spirit and believes in what we’re doing.”
Lookman played for several England youth teams, winning the FIFA U20 World Cup with the European giants, before committing to feature internationally for Nigeria two years ago.
Peseiro admits that the former Everton winger struggled initially to adapt to African football.
The Portuguese tactician has, however, confessed that Lookman is playing his best football for Nigeria after sacrificing a lot to be at the AFCON.
“He’s the son of Nigerians, and he already played for England U-17s, but he came to play with us, as others have,” Peseiro said of Lookman.
“Lookman is having a fantastic tournament, but when he arrived, he had difficulties adapting to African football, as others have. It’s a more physical, open, faster football, less organized. Some players need time, and Lookman is now at his best since joining the Nigerian team.
“Conditions here are different; the food, logistics, everything is different and requires more sacrifice from players who are used to having everything in Europe. It’s a whole different ball game here.”
Lookman and Osimhen are expected to be among the first names on the team sheet when Nigeria trade tackles with hosts Cote d’Ivoire in the AFCON final on Sunday.