The Super Eagles’ failure to score more than two goals against Saudi Arabia in Portugal on Friday was due to a lack of killer instinct among their misfiring forwards, according to coach Jose Peseiro.
The Portuguese lamented the absence of a cutting edge after his team failed to capitalise on multiple scoring opportunities despite having a lopsided lead in possession against the Green Falcons.
Nigeria and Saudi Arabia were tied at the end of their second meeting, which took place in Portugal on Friday. As it did in their only previous meeting 13 years ago, which was also a friendly game, the three-time Asian champions scored a last-second equaliser from a free-kick at the edge of the box that deflected off Calvin Bassey.
“We need to improve on our finishing,” Peseiro said in his post-match interview.
“I think we played very well in the first half and could have scored about three to five goals and in the second half as well. We created more chances in the second half but we need the killer instinct in this squad but I’m happy with the result.”
Victor Osimhen, Ademola Lookman and Samuel Chukwueze had first-half chances to put the Super Eagles ahead but could not, only for the Saudis, who had lost their last six matches in all competitions, to take a shock lead on the hour mark when goalkeeper Francis Uzoho palmed the ball into his own net from a free-kick way out on the right flank by Salman Al Faraj.
Coach Jose Peseiro introduced Terem Moffi for the injured Victor Osimhen, and brought in Bright Osayi-Samuel, Kelechi Iheanacho and Moses Simon to relieve Tyronne Ebuehi, Lookman and Chukwueze.
This appeared to improve Nigeria’s lot at the fore, as Iheanacho and Simon rattled the Falcons’ defence at will, and Simon was the architect of Nigeria’s equaliser, when he did a yeoman’s job to lay the ball to Victor Boniface to score his first Nigeria goal from a tight angle in the 73rd minute.
Eight minutes later, Iheanacho drove the ball powerfully into the net beyond the flailing hands of the Falcons’ goalie, after Moffi and Simon combined to put the opposing defence in knots.
The game came less than 24 hours after the Super Eagles learnt they would be playing hosts Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau and Equatorial Guinea in the group phase at the Africa Cup of Nations early next year, and 48 hours after they adopted ‘Let’s Do It Again’ as their mantra for the trophy quest in Ivory Coast.
On Monday, the Eagles will take on the Mambas of Mozambique in another friendly encounter at the same venue, before 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and Zimbabwe next month.