Portugal a good test for Super Eagles’ progress, says Peseiro
Super Eagles’ Manager, Jose Peseiro, has promised to field a competitive team in Nigeria’s international friendly against Portugal in Lisbon, today.
Portugal is hosting Nigeria in their last test game before their opening game of the Qatar 2022 World Cup against Ghana on Thursday, next week.
The 2016 European champions have been preparing their challenge for the only international competition they are yet to win.
With one of the world’s best stars of his generation, Cristiano Ronaldo, nearing the end of his career, Portugal sees Qatar 2022 as a good opportunity to join the only six countries to win the World Cup.
And they believe the Super Eagles will give them the right gauge of their readiness for the Copa du Mundo.
But, Peseiro, a Portuguese, does not believe the Super Eagles will give the Europeans a chance to brag into the World Cup.
Speaking on the game, Peseiro said: “Playing against my nation, the best in the world, which can win the World Cup, is extraordinary. But it is also a great opportunity: When you want to create a national team, with great goals, you have to do it against great opponents. For now, we have played Mexico and Ecuador in America and then against Algeria.
“The path must be this, if you want to improve the national team, you must play against tough teams, go through defeats that prepare you for the future.”
Nigeria will be facing Ronaldo, who is eager to exit the stage on a high and Peseiro sees his presence in the Portuguese team as a great challenge and also a motivation for his team.
“In the last 20 years, Ronaldo has contributed to making Portugal one of the best teams in the world. He is a great motivator, who makes every team he plays for better.
“It is a great opportunity for my players to gauge their game against some of the best in the world, not only Ronaldo.
“Sincerely, I am wishing that this is a FIFA World Cup group stage match, because I tell you, that is the level at which Nigeria should be playing. Even though that is not the case, our objective is to go out there and win.
“It is good that we are playing big teams. I am enamoured by that because this is good for the team and it will sharpen the team to achieve our goal of winning the next Africa Cup of Nations. We also have the opportunity to test a number of players.”
Apart from Ronaldo, the Eagles will also meet some of the greatest stars in the game on the Portuguese side.
These include Bernardo Silva, Jaoa Felix, Ruben Neves, Rafael Leao, Andre Silva, Ruben Dias, Pepe, Bruno Fernandes, Rui Patricio and Jaoa Cancelo, among others.
In the absence of Victor Osimhen, who withdrew from the game, Nigeria has a lineup of budding stars, who are eager to make names for themselves.
Apart from the established stars like Alex Iwobi, Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo, William Troost-Ekong, Joe Aribo, Francis Uzoho, Calvin Bassey and Maduka Okoye, Peseiro has also given some new players the opportunity to stake their claim to permanent jerseys in the team.
They are Bruno Onyemaechi, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Ebube Duru.
The match, which is the first senior international between Nigeria and Portugal, will hold at the 50,000-capacity Estádio José Alvalade from 6.45 p.m. Portugal time (7.45 p.m. Nigeria time).