AFCON 2023: Ola Aina Takes Bullet for Coach Jose Peseiro After Iheanacho’s Press Conference Absence

AFCON 2023: Ola Aina Takes Bullet for Coach Jose Peseiro After Iheanacho’s Press Conference Absence

Ero Samson
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
In this article:
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
Super Eagles logo
Super Eagles
South Africa
Nigeria logo
Angola logo
South Africa logo
South Africa
South Africa
Kelechi Iheanacho logo
K. Iheanacho
Leicester City logoFNigeria logo
Ola Aina logo
O. Aina
Nottingham Forest logoDNigeria logo
Ivory Coast logo
Cote DIvoire
Ivory Coast
  • The commencement of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals is imminent
  • The Super Eagles of Nigeria are raring to lock horns with Hugo Broos' South Africa
  • Ola Aina put himself in harm's way during the press conference with Jose Peseiro

Anticipation for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-final matchups is electric, with fans and stakeholders eagerly counting down to the kickoff of their respective matches.

Undoubtedly, the most anticipated clash of the round is between Nigeria’s Super Eagles and South Africa’s Bafana Bafana. These two long-standing rivals are set to renew their storied rivalry at the illustrious Stade de Bouake in Ivory Coast.

AFCON, CAF, Nigeria, Angola, Super Eagles, South Africa.
Nigeria's Super Eagles players during the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final match against Angola. Image: Franck Fife.
Source: Getty Images

However, leading up to this pivotal showdown, Super Eagles defender, Ola Aina, has come to the rescue of manager Jose Peseiro, addressing questions surrounding a potential rift between the Portuguese manager and one of the national team's players.

Ola Aina bails out Peseiro

Prior to the pre-match briefing ahead of the showdown with Bafana Bafana, journalists were informed that forward Kelechi Iheanacho would be joining the coach at the press conference.

However, to the surprise of many, it was Aina who made an appearance, causing raised eyebrows among the press corps.

As questions arose regarding Iheanacho's absence from the mandatory pre-match press conference on the eve of the semi-final match against South Africa in the AFCON, the Super Eagles coach found himself struggling to provide an explanation.

It was then that Nottingham defender Aina stepped in, injecting humour into the tense atmosphere with his witty response, as reported by All Nigerian Soccer:

"Am I not good enough? I'm just double-checking."

This spontaneous reaction from the 27-year-old provided significant relief for the manager, deflecting further inquiries into the rumoured friction between coach Peseiro and Iheanacho.

Despite being declared fully fit, the Leicester City forward is yet to make an appearance at the AFCON.

Subsequently, Super Eagles Media Officer Babafemi Raji clarified during the press conference that Aina was replacing Iheanacho.

Olympic medalist advises Nigeria

Sports Brief in another report stated that 1996 Olympic Gold medalist, Tijani Babangida, has advised Nigeria’s Super Eagles ahead of their crunch tie against South Africa.

The 50-year-old urged the three-time Cup of Nations winners to approach the game with the same tactics employed in their quarter-final fixture against Angola.

Ero Samson photo
Ero Samson
Samson Ero is a sports journalist with a track record of over five years in the Nigerian media industry. He graduated from Nigerian Institute of Journalism (2021-2023).