Super Eagles head coach, Jose Peseiro, has stressed he would play Kelechi Iheanacho in the 2023 AFCON if his abilities are needed in a game.
Kelechi Iheanacho is one of the big Superstars in the Super Eagles squad who have yet to taste action in the 2023 AFCON. He is also among the last players to arrive in the Nigerian camp because of fitness issues.
Due to how late he arrived in Ivory Coast for the tournament, he didn’t play in the Super Eagles’ 2023 AFCON opener against Equatorial Guinea, which ended in a 1-1 draw. Then, the report said he was not fit enough to start the game.
To the dismay of most Nigerian football enthusiasts, the Leicester City forward didn’t play in Nigeria’s 1-0 win over the hosts of the tournament, Ivory Coast. This sparked speculations that coach Jose Peseiro is having a misunderstanding with Kelechi Iheanacho, a speculation the Portuguese tactician has since debunked.
In Nigeria’s last group stage game, which was against Guinea-Bissau, most Nigerian football fans thought Iheanacho would finally have his game time, but that didn’t happen. Nigeria went on to win 1-0 without him.
The same fate befell Iheanacho in the 2023 AFCON round of 16 clash between Nigeria and Cameroon, which ended in a 2-0 win in favour of the Super Eagles.
Ahead of the Super Eagles vs Angola quarter-finals clash on February 2, Jose Peseiro was asked about his decision not to feature Kelechi Iheanacho in the 2023 AFCON games played so far, the coach stressed that the footballer is not the only one who is yet to play in the tournament.
“I know his value and capabilities. I don’t like speaking about this kind of situation, because other players didn’t play also like Kelechi. He arrived here without practice, without the collective practice,” Peseiro said as quoted by Making of Champions.
“Leicester called him, and then put him here, without (him joining for) collective practice. If I needed to score, then it’s possible he would have come in, I needed to protect my goal. But not him alone, Ahmed Musa has not played, Aribo started the last match, but did not start against Cameroon.”
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