'Ndidi, Osimhen, Zaidu, Awoniyi were missing' - Peseiro insists Super Eagles had the team to beat ZimbabwePublished: November 19, 2023
Speaking at the post-match press conference shortly after his side were held to a 1-1 draw by Zimbabwe on matchday two of the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, manager Jose Peseiro insisted that the Super Eagles had the team to beat the Warriors despite the absence of some of his key players.
Four players in Peseiro's ideal startling lineup, namely Victor Osimhen, Wilfred Ndidi, Samuel Chukwueze and Zaidu Sanusi, were not named on the roster for the November internationals due to fitness issues.
While Osimhen and Chukwueze picked up hamstring injuries during the Super Eagles' training camp in Portugal last month, Sanusi and Ndidi suffered muscle-related injuries while on club duties.
Chukwueze and Sanusi are back in action but were not called up for the World Cup qualifiers because they are lacking match fitness.
Nottingham Forest striker Taiwo Awoniyi did not travel with the team to Rwanda due to a groin injury he aggravated in Thursday's draw against Lesotho.
Peseiro noted that the travel logistics affected the performance of his team, adding that his key players, including Osimhen, Chukwueze, Awoniyi, Zaidu and Ndidi, were not missed.
"The trip from Uyo to here, in the bus, in the airplane many hours, the players I think did not rest enough to play in the same level," Peseiro told reporters.
"It was bad to draw against Zimbabwe but I cannot say anything more. First half very bad, second half much better."
On whether the absence of his star players affected the performance of the team, Peseiro responded: "It can happen. Ndidi, Osimhen, Zaidu and Taiwo, many players (were missing). We have enough players, sometimes it can happen, Samuel Chukwueze, they could not come. We had the team to beat Zimbabwe"
After two matches in Group C of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, Nigeria are second with two points in the provisional standings, one less than table-toppers South Africa, who face Rwanda on November 21.
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