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Peseiro says farewell to Nigeria after Eagles reign

•Eguavoen, Finidi, Amuneke tipped as replacement

Portuguese manager, Jose Peseiro, has penned a farewell message to Nigerians after his contract as coach of the Super Eagles officially expired on Thursday, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

Peseiro who guided the Eagles to a second-place finish at the 2023 African Cup of Nations, on Friday, said he was fulfilled coaching the West African nation.

“Yesterday, we concluded our contract with the NFF. It was a pride and honour to coach the Super Eagles. It has been 22 months of immense dedication, sacrifice, emotion, and enormous enthusiasm. We feel a sense of fulfillment,” he wrote on social media platform, X.

“We would like to express our gratitude to Sir Amaju Pinnick (the president who signed us), President Ibrahim Gusau, General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi, Secretary Dayo Enebi, the NFF, all the Staff, and especially all the PLAYERS, with whom leading has been a great pleasure.

“Guys, we are thankful; it has been a privilege to be part of this family. We will miss you, but we will always be there for you, no matter where you are. A big hug to all of you.

Despite qualifying the team for Ivory Coast, the Portuguese’ future has remained in doubt uncertain after starting the 2026 World Cup qualifiers with draws against Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

The 63-year-old however penned a six-month contract till the end of AFCON with a key clause of reaching the showpiece semi-finals. He surpassed the target losing 2-1 to hosts Ivory Coast in the final

Talks of a new contract by the Nigeria Football Federation were said to be in the works though Peseiro admitted he had interests from seven national teams. One of the teams touted to be interested in the Portuguese, Algeria on Thursday announced Bosnian, Vladimir Petkovic as head coach.

Since his appointment, Peseiro took charge of 24 games, winning 12, losing eight and recording four draws.

Despite the ups and downs, Peseiro guided Nigeria to the AFCON final in Ivory Coast where the Eagles narrowly missed out on the trophy, falling to Ivory Coast 2-1 in a hard-fought match on Sunday. Two strikes from Franck Kessie and Sebastien Haller were enough to cancel out captain and eventual tournament MVP William Troost-Ekong’s opener.

Before the tournament, Peseiro boldly declared that Nigeria would win the AFCON saying, “We have a great squad of players that really want to win this for Nigeria. I want to win the AFCON. Football brings a long of emotion, more than any sport and this is important for Nigeria.”

Although the Eagles couldn’t dig out the gold, reaching the final was a commendable feat for a team that bookmakers never gave a chance to reach the final in the first place.

Following his farewell message, names like Emmanuel Amunike and George Finidi are already being touted as possible choices to replace the Portuguese.

Former Super Falcons assistant coach, Mansur Abdullahi, believes that a domestic coach should be put in charge of the national team.

“At this crucial time, I think the assistant coach Finidi should coach the team since he was part of Peseiro’s time in charge and can improve on what the Portuguese did.

“As a Nigerian coach, I don’t think we need any foreign coach now, look at how Ivory Coast won with a local coach. I think if you give a Nigerian coach a good chance and 60 per cent of what foreign coaches are paid, I think they will do better,” the assistant secretary of Nigerian Football Coaches association said.

TV presenter Charles Anazodo told our correspondent that he hopes Peseiro’s contract is extended but there are good options to replace him both within and outside Nigeria.

“I still want to wait for confirmation that the NFF do not want to offer him an extension. I would prefer that he is retained but if it comes to choices to replace him, it would depend on how much we have because for me, a very good choice is Hervé Renard but I doubt we can afford him so maybe we should look inward,” Anazodo said.

“I would say we should go for a person like Emmanuel Amunike who has won laurels for the nation and has his coaching licence at the highest level. I think Amunike would get the job done.”

The technical director of the Nigerian Football Federation, Austine Eguavoen who has been tipped to come in as an interim coach also backed Peseiro to get a contract extension.

Speaking with Brila FM, Eguavoen said that the coach will be provided with confidence and trust, should he sign to continue with the Super Eagles.

“He has tried a lot, his performance and the entire team did well at the last AFCON. For me, I’ll say he should continue because if a new person comes in, it’ll be a new system. Now, we should be a bit flexible going forward.

“In a nutshell, I’ll say Peseiro stay. We’ll give him an enabling environment and confidence, and we’ll continue to monitor his performance. If we provide favourable conditions, feel the people, understand the culture, I think he’ll give us better results,” Eguavoen said.

As discussions continue regarding who will coach the Eagles, Nigerians would be keen to have this question answered before the next set of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers in June.

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