Former Nigeria International and a member of the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)- winning Green Eagles, Kadiri Ikhana said it would be wrong to judge the readiness of the Super Eagles ahead of the forthcoming 2023 AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire, adding it would be wrong to write off the coach Jose Peseiro-led side on account of recent performances.
Ikhana who made history as the first Nigerian coach to win the CAF Champions League Trophy with Enyimba in 2003, said recent international friendly matches against Saudi Arabia (2-2) and Mozambique (3-2), only offered the coaching crew the opportunities to fine-tune the national team towards the delayed AFCON in January as well as the upcoming 2026 World Cup qualifiers in November.
“ We are preparing for the Africa Cup of Nations and all these friendly matches are just for the coaches to be able to look at all the players and we cannot begin to talk about changing the coaching crew now,” the erstwhile Super Falcons hinted in an interview with Brila FM.
“ You can’t judge a coach with friendly matches rather you judge a coach with a tournament.
“ Friendly matches are meant for the adjustment of the team, and to perfect the squad as such we cannot judge the team ( Super Eagles) now.
“ The coaches are seeing the loopholes from the goalkeeping and defensive positions. Let’s allow the team to make these adjustments so that by the time they are rounding off their preparations, we can begin to talk about the team for the Nations Cup .”
Speaking in the same vein, another former Nigeria international, Godwin Okpara believed the Super Eagles would be ready for the continental battle in January if players are picked based on match fitness.
“Let the selection of the players be on merit,” Okpara counselled.
“ But he’s ( Jose Peseiro) is being sentimental about it and we haven’t got the right people in there but let’s leave our fingers crossed and see what is going to happen,” added the former Aalst defender.