Jose Peseiro: Not Yet Goodbye!  


By Jude Ndukwe

THE now former coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria left the job after his contract with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) expired at the end of February. His exit has created a familiar debate usually associated with such circumstances: should we seek another foreign coach or should we settle for an indigenous coach to take over from him?

While some have argued that the next coach of the Super Eagles should be hired based on competence, track record and merit irrespective of where he comes from, others have said that they would prefer an indigenous coach to take over the saddle. Some have also insisted that Jose Peseiro should have been allowed to continue as coach of the senior national team especially as he surpassed the target of a semi-final ticket set for him by the NFF at the recently concluded AFCON 2023 tournament in Cote D’Ivoire.

Some of those who are angling for an indigenous coach have given reasons why they want a Nigerian to take charge of the Super Eagles going forward. The point of view of such people seems to be based more on sociopolitical issues than competence and the need to sustain the newfound momentum around our football as they argue that going for a foreign coach even if he is the best at his trade would amount to a continuation of colonialism. 

One of such prominent Nigerians with this view is the highly respected ‘mathematical’ Segun Odegbami, one of Nigeria’s prodigious soccer legends. By the virtue of his experience and involvement in football over the decades, Segun Odegbami’s opinions on football are not only weighty but also worth serious consideration by serious stakeholders. After all, he is not ‘mathematical’ for nothing!

However, on this front, he may have faltered a bit. Football is too important to Nigeria and Nigerians to be decided by extraneous sociopolitical issues like colonialism over competence and the therapeutic reliefs and joy it brings us as a nation.

In his interview with NAN, Odegbami was reported to have said, “Unless we want to be enslaved forever, in our colonial mentality where we think that only the white can coach us to success.

“All around us, we hear about some Nigerians who are excelling in all fields of endeavours and they are leaving the country to go and help other countries.

“Football is not a rocket science, but a simple game, we have lots of Nigerians who have all the qualifications to take us to any level.

“For me, I won’t suffer from colonial mentality again and enough of foreign coaches, now, it’s time for a Nigerian coach to handle our national team.”

While it is true that “we hear about some Nigerians who are excelling in all fields of endeavour and they are leaving the country to go and help other countries,” it is the same way nationals of other countries who are excelling in all fields of endeavour are leaving their countries to come to Nigeria to help us as a nation. No one country has it all.

Even in Europe, some countries have South Americans as coaches. Albania has Sylvinho from Brazil as their national team coach; Gibraltar has Julio Cesar Ribas from Uruguay as coach. Even China, one of the world’s superpowers and most advanced countries on major fronts of human endeavour, has Branko Ivankovic, a European from Croatia as their current national team coach. Between 1992 and today, China has had 21 national football team coaches with 11 of them being foreigners. Even among the other ten coaches of Chinese origin, six of them were appointed on a caretaker/interim basis and only four served permanently.  

Iraq, a largely Islamic country, currently has a certain Jesus Casas, a Spaniard, as their national football team coach. The name Jesus was not to be a barrier when seeking the best hands to steer their team to success.

Several top European nations have coaches of their national teams from countries other than theirs. Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, and Turkey are among such countries.

So, countries who want to enjoy success shun all forms of biases to go for the best coaches they think would bring them the desired improvements and success in football. And it should be the same with Nigeria. It is not colonialism, it is globalisation! Colonialism is carting away our resources and using them for the development of other nations. And that is not the case in this circumstance. In fact, our players plying their trade all over the world are the ones using the resources of foreign countries to develop their skills and talents and return home to use them to advance our collective national cause in the highly competitive global scene.

Jose Peseiro worked in extremely difficult circumstances where motivation was at its lowest ebb having been owed a whopping six months salary at a point in his short stint with Nigeria. Yet, he kept his cool and never for once held the nation to ransom. At another time, he was forced to pay his preferred assistants from his own pocket. No nation should subject their coaches to such treatment no matter what if they want good results. But ours will always be different with zero personnel management but high expectations of results. 

Things were not that smooth with our football to the extent that even the NFF began to have doubts about their own management style and gave Peseiro a semi-final target at AFCON 2023 when, with our pedigree, the target, if all things had worked well in the boardroom, should have been a minimum of appearance in the final. Yes, Nigeria is that big and with our array of players plying their trade all over the world, we should be targeting winning a good number of tournaments we partake in.  

In spite of these snags, Peseiro kept on working. Even though his beginning was shaky, he eventually established himself as the type of coach Nigeria needs at this time. He did not only surpass the semi-final target set for him by the NFF, but he brought joy to Nigerians at the peak of our economic hardship, insecurity and such other sociopolitical problems that beset the nation. For the first time in a long while, Nigerians found many reasons to not only love and support the Super Eagles again as it was in the days gone by, but many wives started having a better understanding of what football meant to their husbands as they copiously stated on the social media. They started believing, started taking interest and started following the matches because Peseiro was able to mould the team into a truly winning team that played with grit and some flair. In following, the female supporters started having the understanding why their husbands were so committed to football, hence, promised better understanding and management of their husbands’ emotions arising from games. Better homes across the country will be the result. Thanks to Peseiro! 

His brand of football revived the dwindled spirit of patriotism among Nigerians that even those who hitherto had no interest in the sport started taking note, thanks partly also to social media. Before the tournament, morale was low among Nigerians but as the tournament went on, hope came alive and it increased with every match. Peseiro gave us bragging rights over many African nations. 

He magically won the heart and confidence of the players that we could see they were not only playing for the country but also for him. 

We had a really good tournament under his charge that several Nigerian footballers with dual nationalities are beginning to seriously consider switching permanently to represent Nigeria while those who for one reason or the other could not make it to the tournament are expressing their regrets. And who in their shoes would not? With William Troost-Ekong emerging the overall best player at AFCON, Stanley Nwabali narrowly missing out on being the best goalkeeper, Nigeria rising a significant 14 places in the FIFA ranking, and more, Nigeria’s glory days, like in the Clemence Westerhoff/Jo Bonfrere era, seem to be restored by Peseiro.

Nigeria has once again become attractive to football stars of international repute. Credit to Jose Peseiro. Unless we want to diminish this progress we have seen in our darling Super Eagles, I strongly advocate that we shun every sentiment and offer Peseiro a new and even improved contract. He deserves it. When the glory story is written, it is Nigeria and not Peseiro that will appear on the sheet!

  • Jude Ndukwe (X: stjudendukwe) sent this piece from Abuja via


Eighteen-Eleven Media 


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