…if not dropped by NFF
Ex-international Henry Nwosu has countered insinuations that the Super Eagles might have qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup if the Nigeria Football Federation had allowed the new coach Jose Peseiro to lead the team against the Black Stars of Ghana in the qualifiers as earlier announced instead of keeping Austin Eguavoen for the assignment. The NFF had earlier announced Peseiro as the man that would manage the affairs of the side after the 2021 African Cup of Nations with a pre-contract deal signed by the two parties. But the federation later reneged on the agreement as it decided to keep Eguavoen despite the team crashing out in the round of 16 of AFCON. However, the decision turned out bad as Eguaveon, also the Technical Director in the federation, couldn’t deliver the World Cup ticket, leaving many Nigerians gnashing their teeth.
However, some pundits, after the progress made by the team in Peseiro’s first two competitive games, suggested that Nigeria’s flag would have been hoisted in Qatar as a participating country in the World Cup had the NFF respected its earlier agreement with the Portuguese and allowed him to handle the team against the Black Stars instead of Eguavoen. Nwosu, in an interview with our correspondent, shot down the suggestion, saying that football doesn’t work that way, insisting the country could have suffered the same eventuality even if the best coach in the team was in the saddle.
“Football is not mathematics where one plus one will equal two; there is no way you would have predicted that the story would have been different if another coach had handled the team for the matches. Ghana is also a big footballing country; they can beat any team in Africa on their day and when two strong teams face each other, it is important to know that only one of them would emerge victorious.
It is unfortunate that Nigeria will not be at the World Cup; it is a sad commentary but that does not stop us from aspiring to qualify and do well in other competitions. We have to stop this blame game now and focus on the future,” he said. Nwosu who was in the squad that won the country’s first AFCON title said the Eagles have been showing signs of improvement under the new manager and urged Nigerians to support the squad instead of castigating the new man. He said having won two of his first four matches with the winning games being competitive ones meant that the coach has not started badly and will need time to knit the squad together in line with his own philosophy.
“So far, so good for the coach; he hasn’t performed badly and we can see the improvement in the way the team plays now. I know some Nigerians still want to criticise a coach who won his first two competitive matches with one of them ending 10-0, I can’t imagine the reason for such criticism. He has started well and we have to keep supporting the boys, we have to be reasonable in the way we even criticise the team. We will not be at the World Cup and that should be enough reason for us to rally around the squad now so that we can make the Nations Cup and launch ourselves back to reckoning in the global football by raising a strong side that can qualify for the 2026 Wo r l d Cup.