Sport

Afcon 2023: ‘Friendlies are not a true reflection’

The Super Eagles are in the semi-finals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations and have proved doubters wrong following bad results in their build-up.

WHAT HAPPENED

Nigeria had quite a limp start to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, and this was preluded by their less impressive showing in the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers and friendlies that built up to the Afcon.

In their last game before heading to Ivory Coast, the Super Eagles lost 2-0 to Guinea and failed to get the better of Saudi Arabia in a 2-2 friendly.

THE BIGGER PICTURE

Even though the Super Eagles have been goal-shy in this tournament, scoring six goals from five games, they have made it all the way to the semi-finals, and head coach Jose Peseiro has emphasized that their friendly games ahead of the continental showpiece were not a true reflect of their readiness for the Afcon.

WHAT WAS SAID

”It’s true, our previous results were not so good, against Guinea and especially against Zimbabwe – we deserved to win against Zimbabwe. Our qualification had more goals and a big score,” Peseiro was quoted as saying by SABC Sport.

AND WHAT ELSE?

”The friendly match for me is used to check and test some things. I have used the friendly matches to test the players against different teams. The fact that Nigeria were also playing a lot of these matches away from home was a factor. Nigeria played friendly matches away from home, against Portugal, Mexico and Mozambique, for me friendly matches are for training and to check things,” said Peseiro.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Super Eagles and South Africa will renew their long-standing rivalry in the semi-finals on 7 February, where the Super Eagles will search for a first appearance in the final since they last won the title in 2013 in Mzansi.

Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana reached the last four for the first time since 2000 where they finished third behind winners Cameroon and runners-up Nigeria.