Coach José Santos Peseiro has opted for positivity and pragmatism as he starts his managerial stint with Nigeria having to deal with the forced absence of a number of key players, including Captain Ahmed Musa, from the prestige friendly games against Mexico and Ecuador in the United States of America.
Musa, as well as goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, defenders Zaidu Sanusi and Abdullahi Shehu, midfielders Oghenekaro Etebo, Azubuike Okechukwu, Alhassan Yusuf and Samson Tijani, and forwards Samuel Chukwueze and Sadiq Umar were unable to make it to the United States as a combination of factors including visa hitches, injuries and career concerns took their toll.
“You have to be practical and face the challenges when they come this way or any other way. We would have loved to have everyone here and see how well they have put the World Cup miss behind them and forged on. But what we have is what we have. I have chosen to be positive and I have resolved to work hard to use the resources available to make Nigeria great again.
“I am happy we have such an excellent pool of players who are committed and ready to give their all every time. This situation was not something they created; challenges do turn up that way. We have a number of options who have been told to rise up to the occasion. Every player who gets the chance to wear the Nigeria jersey should be proud of that opportunity and give their all.”
Three–time African champions Nigeria are up against the Senior National Teams of Mexico and Ecuador in Dallas (State of Texas) and Harrison (New Jersey) respectively. It is the team’s first gathering and run-out since narrowly missing a ticket to the FIFA World finals in Qatar at the end of March.
The Eagles will battle Mexico’s El Tri, perennial CONCACAF champions, at the AT&T Stadium situated at the AT&T Way in Arlington on Saturday, 28th May, as from 7pm Texas time (1am, Sunday 29th May in Nigeria).