As the dust settles on the Qatar World Cup, attentions have turned away from international football and back to the domestic landscape.
But, behind the scenes, Nigeria’s head coach Jose Peseiro is getting his teeth stuck into his task of developing the next kings of Africa, reports mirror.co.uk.
Super Eagles during a training. Photo/twitter/NGSuperEagles[/caption]The most recent step in Peseiro’s plan involved a trip to England, where he watched a number of games and visited several of his stars at their clubs. Recent call-ups from England include the likes of Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfried Ndidi from Leicester, Nottingham Forest duo Emmanuel Dennis and Taiwo Awoniyi, Brentford’s Frank Onyeka, Everton ace Alex Iwobi and Southampton star Joe Aribo.
“This is part of the longer plan,” he says. “It’s my strategy to see for myself our players in training, in practice and it’s important I speak with the coaches, with the fitness coaches, also.
“I watched seven matches and I was at three practices to observe, to stay in contact with the players and speak with them. It’s different and it’s important I understand what they do there.
“I had good meetings with the coaches, shared some points about our players because normally we are not with them for too much time, but the club coach works with them for more time and can advise me or speak to me with more objectivity about what they can do.”
Peseiro’s trip also threw-up another fascinating aspect of the Nigeria role – the numerous English-based players eligible for the Super Eagles but with involvement in other international setups.
Whilst Bukayo Saka, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori have been capped by England at senior level, the likes of Eberechi Eze, Michael Olise, Folarin Balogun, Carney Chukwuemeka, Tosin Adarabioyo, Noni Madueke and more could be called-up by Nigeria.
“There are many, many players at the moment that can play for Nigeria,” Peseiro says. “With that, it’s not easy, our work.
“You receive some information or when you watch many players on TV or live, you can discover more players, more players, more players.
“I was in some matches when I was in England to see some players, then at the same time we discover, ‘well that player can play for us, also’, normally young players.
“There are many good players with quality, capacity and good training. For us, if we want to win the next AFCON, I am happy because I have many players with quality to create a good national team.
“But it’s not easy to choose the right players. We try to see them in the match, after that I try to call them for our practice and our friendly games, because we want to create a small group with quality for developing in training and practice to implement our ideas to win the next AFCON.
“But there are a lot of players, and they need to show the maximum demand and motivation to play for Nigeria. Quality, of course, but demand and motivation to play for us.”
Peseiro came into the role with a glowing reference, with former Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) president, Amaju Pinnick, phoning Jose Mourinho, one of his close friends, before offering him the job.
Peseiro and Mourinho go way back, meeting as they took their first steps in coaching and remaining close as their careers have developed. Peseiro is only too happy to reciprocate Mourinho’s kind words by hailing the winning mentality his pal has brought to the game.
“He’s been my friend for a long time,” Peseiro explains. “I have a very good relationship with him.
“From 30 or 40 years ago, we’ve kept that relationship. I’m happy he’s my friend and I think from then, he’s still the same.
“What I can say about him as a coach is he’s an amazing coach. He’s won 26 trophies now, I think, and when he’s gone to any team, he only puts in their mind to win, win, win.
“In Europe, only he beat the best Barcelona with Guardiola, with the record goals and points. Every day, he tries to do better, the same now at Roma. He tries to improve the team.”
Peseiro will now look to emulate Mourinho’s winning mentality at Nigeria knowing he has the Special One in his corner. With the next instalment of AFCON around the corner, and a big year to secure qualification, Nigeria’s progression is a storyline to watch in international football.
• Culled from mirror.co.uk