Nigeria head coach Jose Peseiro set to pit his wits against Mancini

Nigeria head coach Jose Peseiro will step up his preparations for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations with a friendly against Saudi Arabia at the Estadio Municipal de Portimao in Portugal on Friday. Peseiro recently took a pay cut to continue in his role with the Super Eagles for another six months after his initial one-year contract had expired at the end of June.

The Portuguese tactician has faith in his current crop of players and wants to guide the West Africans to a fourth Afcon title in Ivory Coast next year.

Peseiro’s side qualified for the continental showpiece as Group A winners, having emerged victorious in five of their six matches, with the only blip coming in a 1-0 defeat to Guinea-Bissau on 24 March.

Nigeria closed out the qualifying campaign with a 6-0 thrashing of Sao Tome and Principe to record their third win on the spin, which saw Victor Boniface make his debut for the national team.

Peseiro revealed he is still scouting for more talent to boost their 2023 Afcon chances in January and February after monitoring the progress of Boniface at Union SG last season before finally giving the striker his opportunity against the Falcons and True Parrots.

“Boniface is a player that last season I already evaluated on video through the Scout platform. Then I travelled to Belgium to talk to him, learn about him, the objectives he has and explain the objectives we have,” he told OwngoalNigeria.

“I liked how he played and what he told us about his willingness to play with us. He is doing very well in Belgium because that is a top-5 tier league.

Roberto Mancini will be targeting the first win of his tenure, having lost to Costa Rica (3-1) and South Korea (1-0) since taking charge of the Green Falcons in August.

Saudi Arabia pulled off one of the shocks of the 2022 World Cup when they beat eventual champions Argentina 2-1 under Herve Renard, but finished bottom of Group C.

Renard tendered his resignation in the wake of the 2-1 defeat to Bolivia on 28 March and Mancini has subsequently been brought in to turn around their fortunes.

“I believe this is a great opportunity for me, to experience football in a new country, especially with the growing popularity of football in Asia,” the former Italy head coach said. The presence of top players in the Saudi Pro League indicates the potential for growth in the national football scene.

Source: Supersport

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