|Semi Ajayi in action in Nigeria's 1-1 home draw against the Flames of Lesotho. The WBA defender scored Nigeria's only goal in the game. (Photo credit: BBC)|
The Super Eagles of Nigeria, under the Portuguese manager Jose Peseiro, have struggled to inspire confidence or command games, with the latest of their abysmal run coming in the 1-1 home game against Lesotho.
With the array of talents available to Peseiro, the Super Eagles have, on paper, what it takes to dominate the continent, but as things stand, the three-time African champions will depend on permutations to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
It’s no longer news that Lesotho held Nigeria to a 1-1 draw at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, but how did it happen? It’s also no longer news that the Super Eagles had to come from behind to snatch a point, leaving them struggling to steer clear in the group.
On paper, South Africa is supposed to be the only threat to Nigeria’s qualification, but after the embarrassment suffered at the hands of the Flames on home soil, the likes of Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and the Benin Republic must be nursing ideas already.
If the Bafana Bafana can earn a win against the Squirrels of Benin Republic at the Nelson Mandela Stadium on Saturday, they will go top, and except Nigeria beats Zimbabwe away in Harare on Sunday, South Africa will end the first round on top of the log, and then permutation starts.
Nigeria missed out on the 2006 and 2022 World Cups but have appeared in the rest of the competitions since their debut in the USA in 1994, where they made a heroic bow. The journey to the 2026 edition has started on a shaky note, and something must be done.
To put it in plain terms, Jose Peseiro isn’t good enough. His CV shows a nomadic manager that changes jobs monthly, and, after agreeing to a pay cut to take the Super Eagles’ job, it’s clear as day that his appointment is more sentimental than on merit.
In terms of quality, Nigeria boasts the largest pool of foreign-based professionals, and in the attacking department, Peseiro is spoilt for choice, but how well has he utilised the players at his disposal? Why does he continue to under-perform?
The Africa Cup of Nations is up next in January, and there will not be a second chance if he fails to impress. It’s even dangerous to gamble with the emotions of the whole nation, but as things stand, Nigerians can only hope; after all, that is the national mantra.