AFCON 2023: Jose Peseiro Explains Reason for Nigeria’s Defensive Formation in Ivory Coast

AFCON 2023: Jose Peseiro Explains Reason for Nigeria’s Defensive Formation in Ivory Coast

Ero Samson
updated at February 29, 2024 at 1:19 PM
In this article:
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
Nigeria logo
Super Eagles logo
Super Eagles
South Africa
Ivory Coast logo
Cote DIvoire
Ivory Coast
Franck Kessié logo
F. Kessié
Al-Ahli SFC logoMIvory Coast logo
Sébastien Haller logo
Borussia Dortmund logoFIvory Coast logo
Teboho Mokoena logo
T. Mokoena
Mamelodi Sundowns logoMSouth Africa logo
South Africa logo
South Africa
South Africa
Equatorial Guinea logo
Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea
Zimbabwe logo
  • Nigeria coasted all the way to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast
  • The Super Eagles largely filed out in a defensive set-up throughout the tournament
  • Jose Peseiro has explained his reason for the defensive approach at the showpiece

The Super Eagles of Nigeria dominated the headlines during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) for several compelling reasons.

Initially, the team faced criticism after a lacklustre opening match against Equatorial Guinea, despite boasting a squad of exceptional players.

However, what truly distinguished the Nigerian side throughout the AFCON was their sudden adoption of an impeccable and resolute defensive strategy after the opening fixture.

AFCON, Nigeria, Super Eagles, Ivory Coast, Ademola Lookman, CAF.
Ademola Lookman and Jean Michael Seri battle for the ball during the Africa Cup of Nations final match between Nigeria and Ivory Coast. Image: Visionhaus.
Source: Getty Images

Under Jose Peseiro's guidance, the Super Eagles surprisingly employed a 5-4-1 formation, a departure from their usual style, which proved highly effective as they progressed to the finals with a strong defensive record.

During the tournament, the Super Eagles went over 490 minutes without conceding a goal. This streak was only broken by midfielder, Teboho Mokoena's penalty in the final minutes of the semi-final against South Africa.

However, this defensive strategy, which had been their strength, turned into their Achilles' heel in the final against Ivory Coast. After taking the lead in the first half, Nigeria struggled to maintain their attacking momentum and opted to focus on defending their lead.

Unfortunately, second-half goals from Franck Kessie, and Sebastien Haller, led to a come-from-behind victory for the Ivorians.

Following the disappointment of losing in the final, coach Peseiro explained his reasoning behind the defensive approach, especially considering the attacking talent at his disposal.

Peseiro on his AFCON formation

In an interview with Goal France, the 63-year-old coach discussed the reasoning behind his defensive strategy at the tournament. He explained that the decision stemmed from a need for more solidity and confidence in the team's defensive work and organisation.

Peseiro elaborated on the tactical shift, stating,

“Against Zimbabwe, the conditions were challenging, and in our preparations, we noticed that while playing offensively in a 4-4-2 system, we were conceding avoidable goals on semi-chances. We needed to be more solid, so we opted for 4-3-3 and 3-4-3 systems, which we began working on in Abu Dhabi during our training camp.”

He praised his players' quick adaptation to the new formations, noting:

“The players quickly understood our intentions. Even in the first match against Equatorial Guinea, despite not winning, we saw the benefits. Everyone executed the offensive and defensive instructions very well”

Regarding the team's shortcomings in the final, Peseiro remarked,

“Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to refine the offensive aspect. We needed more time to fully implement this plan.”

Peseiro's comments seemed to address criticisms from football experts regarding the team's style of play, which, despite leading them to the final, has faced scrutiny.

With his contract set to expire at the end of February, the former Real Madrid assistant coach faces an uncertain future as he is still waiting to sign a new deal with the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF).

Peseiro to resigns as Nigeria’s coach?

Sports Brief in another report stated that current Super Eagles coach, Peseiro, could resign from his current position amid a contract offer from the Algerian Football Federation (FAF).

The 63-year-old has reportedly reached a verbal agreement with the 2019 AFCON winners to replace Djamel Belmadi.

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).