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The beginning of the end of 2026 World Cup dream




While some other contending teams are asserting their status and having goal feast and harvest of points, the Nigerian national team, the Super Eagles are demonstrating what they are best known for – Consistently Inconsistent – apologies to the late Professor Ayodele Awojobi.


Cote d’Ivoire Nigeria’s main group opponents in the forth coming Africa Cup of Nations spoke loud and clear as they demolished Seychelles 9-0 in their World Cup qualifiers. Egypt dismantled Djibouti 6-0. Tunisia hammered Sao Tome &Principe 4-0, the same result Senegal had over South Sudan.

Those big teams did not leave anything to chances. The big scores will later count in their favour if their is need for tie-breaker.


Nigeria’s Super Eagles only laboured to 1-1 draw in their two opening matches against lower ranked teams – Lesotho and Zimbabwe. Their World Cup qualifying hopes are thus put on life support.

It has been a disaster that had waited to happen. Since José Vítor dos Santos Peseiro, the Portuguese journeyman took over, his only emphatic success had been in encounters with Sao Tome & Principe, the 50th  ranked among CAF’s 53 affiliates.

Against other teams, even lower ranked ones, it had been very arduous. The once glamorous African team has turned a laborious side under Peseiro.

Consider Africa’s 26th ranked  Guinea-Bissau beating Nigeria at home. Peseiro’s laborious outfit had to depend on the lottery of penalty kick to be back on track for Africa Cup of Nations qualification.

It was almost an horror outsmarting Sierra Leone in the two legged encounters of the Afcon qualifiers. Whatever the outcome of South Africa’s second match, Nigeria will certainly be trailing Bafana Bafana  when both clash in Matchday 3 next year.


The unfolding results is not only an indicative of what to expect at the end of the 10-match series of the World Cup qualifiers, it is an harbinger to what will happen in January at the Africa Cup of Nations.

If the Super Eagles cannot beat lowly rated Lesotho and Zimbabwe, what is the expectation in the duel with giants, Cote d’Ivoire on their home soil? It was a struggle aided by the lottery of penalty kick against Equatorial Guinea last March.

Shall we expect another penalty to upstage  Guinea-Bissau when they face the Super Eagles on Monday January 22?

It will be double jeopardy for Jose Peseiro to continue to handle the Super Eagles. His appointment should be terminated immediately, no matter the repercussion.

Why is it that clubs and national teams find it easy to sack coaches and managers, but it turned to a Greek puzzle if Nigeria were to do the same?


It is well known for a long time that goalkeeping is the major problem afflicting our national team.

Logically, you expect a reasoning coach to experiment with all his invited three goalkeepers in the two-match 180 minute friendly matches.

But as if afflicted with myopic reasoning, Peseiro insisted on off-form and possibly ageing Francis Uzoho who in seven consecutive matches has now conceded seven goals.

One of the most damaging ones was the 30 yard freekick that the goalkeeper ought to have seen the ball sailing from afar.



Undoubtedly, Uzoho’s psyche is damaged and is not psychologically tuned to be first choice goalkeeper. He needs to be rested while Peseiro needs a red card.

With two points from obtainable six, and with prospects of South Africa getting the maximum before facing the Super Eagles next year, we need to act fast.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.