José Peseiro: Nigeria agree terms with Portuguese to become coach

Joseph Peseiro
José Peseiro faces two qualifiers for the African Cup of Nations in June

The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) has reached an agreement with former Porto and Sporting Lisbon boss José Peseiro to take charge of the national team.

The 62-year-old, who resigned from Venezuela’s job last August due to unpaid wages, was previously appointed Nigeria coach in December and was set to take charge of the Super Eagles after the African Cup of Nations.

However, the West African nation was snubbed by the Portuguese in February after their exit from the tournament, citing disagreements over contract clauses and financial matters.

Peseiro, who has been selected by NFF president Amaju Pinnick, will close a deal before Nigeria play two friendlies in the United States at the end of this month.

“It is important to reiterate that an agreement has been reached with Mr Peseiro and he will sign his contract before our friendly against Mexico on May 28,” NFF communications director Ademola Olajire told BBC Sport Africa.

“The Super Eagles are heading to a new stage and the arrival of a new coach is very important for this process.”

The NFF, which has not given details of Peseiro’s contract, confirmed that former Nigerian international Finidi George will be Peseiro’s first assistant.

Salisu Yusuf will serve as second assistant, as well as head coach for Nigeria’s Chan (for local players) and under-23 teams.

Peseiro is expected to take the reins against Mexico, which heads to the World Cup, on May 28 in Texas, followed by a match against Ecuador on June 2 in New Jersey.

Nigeria will then play their first two qualifiers for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, hosting Sierra Leone behind closed doors in Abuja on June 9 in their first Group A match and then against Mauritius four days later.

Peseiro takes the reins of a team that struggled and received intense criticism after being eliminated in the round of 16 in the delayed Nations Cup of 2021 and later failure to reach the 2022 World Cup under interim boss Augustine Eguavoen.

Peseiro has big shoes to fill

The new player’s greatest success came in the 2004-05 season, during the first of two seasons at Sporting Lisbon.

Peseiro led them to third place in the Portuguese league and to the UEFA Cup final, but resigned early the following season after some poor results.

He has also coached Porto, Vitoria Guimaraes and Braga in his native Portugal, as well as teams from Romania, Saudi Arabia, Greece and the United Arab Emirates.

A short stint with Egyptian giants Al Ahly between 2015 and 2016 counts as his only experience in Africa.

Peseiro, a former assistant to Carlos Queiroz at Real Madrid, hopes to get through the Nations Cup qualifiers before winning Nigeria’s fourth continental title.

Gernot Rohr, the country’s last foreign boss, departed as Nigeria’s longest-serving manager after taking over in August 2016 before leading them to the 2018 World Cup and a third-place finish at the 2019 Nations Cup.

But the announcement of his successor as coach has not been entirely applauded by some highly critical Super Eagles fans and local media.

Peseiro will have to surpass his predecessor’s achievement to win over the demanding Nigerian fans.

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