Should the newly hired Super Eagles head coach immediately assume charge of the national team?
Following the announcement of Jose Peseiro as Nigeria’s new coach earlier this week, less than a fortnight before the Africa Cup of Nations, there was a rush to Wikipedia.
Unbeknownst to the bulk of Super Eagles fans, many took it upon themselves to research the man selected by the Nigeria Football Federation to replace Gernot Rohr.
The result was twofold: most fans were underwhelmed by the Portuguese’s credentials, branding his appointment as yet another demoralizing move for another unexceptional foreign manager, while others — a small but vocal minority — are giving the former Al Ahly coach the benefit of the doubt.
With Nigeria’s preparation for the upcoming finals already lacking, the subsequent NFF release following the 61-year-hiring old’s sparked heated controversy.
“The Executive Committee endorsed a proposal for the appointment of Mr Jose Peseiro as the new head coach of the Super Eagles, following the end of the relationship with Mr Gernot Rohr, after careful consideration of a memo presented by Chairman of the Technical and Development Sub-Committee,” read a statement from the NFF. “However, the committee decided that Mr Augustine Eguavoen, the Super Eagles’ temporary head coach, will lead the team to the Afcon 2021 in Cameroon, with Mr Peseiro just serving as an observer.”
“It was generally agreed that the Afcon provides an excellent opportunity for Mr Peseiro to begin working with Mr Eguavoen, who will revert to his post as Technical Director (and thus Mr Peseiro’s immediate employer) after the Afcon.”
It’s unclear whether this is a ruse, but some believe that the ex-Venezuelan tactician’s absence from the finals would be unusual.
With Nigeria’s World Cup playoff set for March, there’s a chance the upcoming tournament may have been the ideal opportunity for the manager to build relationships with his players and start putting his plans into action.
Of course, this strategy could have backfired, especially since the Nigerian federation appears to be hoping for a fourth African crown for the West African country.
It was reportedly a requirement for Rohr to keep his job after leading the three-time winners to third place in Egypt 2019.
As it turned out, the Franco-German was never given the opportunity to lead the team to Cameroon, and despite a lackluster preparation, the NFF believes they still have Afcon hopes.
Rather of allowing the new man time with the squad, the federation chose to put Eguavoen in command of the first team. This shows that the federation isn’t given up on the finals. This might either be a brilliant move or a tragedy.
If the Super Eagles, for example, struggle at the tournament and then lose in their two-legged World Cup playoff in March, the knives will be drawn if any failure is blamed on on-field incoherence.
Of course, only time will tell if the right decision was made, but the thought that Nigeria is missing out on a chance to create the groundwork for journeyman Peseiro in Cameroon will linger.