The Super Eagles returned to training yesterday following their 2-2 draw with Saudi Arabia in one of their two-game friendly matches in Portugal.
Victor Boniface forced an own goal while Kelechi Iheanacho scored Nigeria’s second as the Super Eagles drew 2-2 with the Green Falcons at the Estádio Municipal de Portimão, Portugal.
Nigeria will take on Mozambique in the second friendly game tomorrow at the same venue.
The Eagles took to the gym in the morning and returned to the field by 4.30 p.m. to correct the lapses noticed in the game against Saudi Arabia.
Goalkeeper Leke Ojo, who was delayed by visa issues, arrived in the camp on Friday night and is now ready for action if called upon tomorrow. He is among the 26 players Peseiro took to his native Portugal to prepare for next year’s African Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, which he has vowed to win.
Victor Osimhen, who was substituted in the game against Saudi Arabia due to a minor discomfort in his groin, has resumed training and is ready to go.
Sources at the camp said his substitution in the game was protective and not due to any serious worry.
Meanwhile, Eagles Manager, Jose Peseiro, is pleading with Nigerian football fans to go easy on his goalkeepers, saying the constant fierce criticism is affecting their game.
Maduka Okoye was forced out of the national team temporarily after his blunder at the Cameroun 2021 Nations Cup contributed to the Super Eagles defeat by Tunisia in the second round of the competition. His replacement, Francis Uzoho, has not fared better as he was held accountable for Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Many fans believe that a good goalkeeper would have saved Thomas Partey’s long range shot that squirmed through his legs in the World Cup deciding qualifier against Ghana in Abuja. Nigeria rallied to hold Ghana to a 1-1 draw in that game, but fell to the Black Stars on the away goal rule.
On Friday in Portugal, Uzoho flapped at a free kick, which sailed into his net, to give Saudi Arabia the lead before goals by Boniface and Iheanacho ensured the game ended in a draw.
Speaking on the goalkeepers, yesterday, Peseiro said: “I like our players. When they make mistakes, it is my responsibility. The goalkeepers never play freely or calmly because of the people.
“I don’t know why they attack the goalkeepers every time. Why don’t they attack the strikers when they lose a ball or miss a goal?”
He urged Super Eagles’ fans to encourage the goalkeepers to improve instead of making them uncomfortable each time they represent Nigeria.
“When I arrived here, I remember I was told to change the goalkeepers. I spoke with all of them, no one felt comfortable because everybody attacked them. They could make mistakes; it is my responsibility. Next time I need to train him (Uzoho) better,” he said. (Guardian)