'Lost balls without pressure' - Peseiro admits Super Eagles were a shadow version of themselves in loss to CIVPublished: February 12, 2024
Jose Peseiro has admitted that the Super Eagles were nervous in their 2-1 loss to Ivory Coast in the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday, February 11.
Nigeria did not perform at their best because they decided to stick to their defensive game despite reaching the final and fell short when it mattered, conceding more than one goal for the first time at the 2023 AFCON.
In their worst defensive display at the tournament, a shoddy defending at the back post off a set-piece allowed Franck Kessie to steal in and equalize.
William Troost-Ekong, who has incredibly marshaled the Super Eagles defence prior to the final, allowed Sebastian Haller to get a foot ahead of him to score a fabulous winning goal with eight minutes left on the clock.
Peseiro acknowledged that the Super Eagles were found wanting when they were out of possession with Zaidu Sanusi and Alex Iwobi among the weak links in the side and could not launch a perfect counter-attack unlike previous games.
"Côte d'Ivoire were fantastic, they did not feel nervous. In the opposite my team felt nervous, felt more nervous than the opponents - the pressure from the people, the support from the Ivorian fans. Because of that we lost so many balls from the back," Peseiro said at the post-match press conference.
"Our team normally play well when they have the ball and counterattack with quality but we could not today. Not one player I'm disappointed with, they did the best.
"They had a fantastic tournament, everybody must say congratulations to my players for this tournament Today we could not, many of them were nervous, we lost balls for nothing, without pressure.
"You play two times against one team with power, quality, with the people who support them, win one match and lose one. Should it have been better losing the first and winning this one?"
Nigeria registered only one shot on target in the final, whereas Ivory Coast racked up eighteen shots with eight on target and the match also saw the Elephants dominate possession, 63%/37%.
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