Nigeria head coach José Peseiro has warned his team against complacency as they prepare to face South Africa in the Africa Cup of Nations semifinals on Wednesday, saying “favorite” tag is not in their heads.
With a pragmatic mindset, Peseiro cautioned his side against underestimating South Africa in the crucial game that will define the Eagles’ steps to continental glory as well as his reputation in the eyes of Nigerians.
Speaking at a pre match press conference ahead of the crunch clash, Peseiro stressed the need for his Super Eagles side to stay grounded and focused.
He highlighted South Africa’s remarkable 2-0 upset victory over tournament favorites Morocco in the quarterfinals.
“We know the power of the opponent, we know they want to win like us, they have confidence, they have good organization, they want to win the AFCON like us but my importance is our team,” Peseiro stated.
The Portuguese tactician emphasized that underestimating South Africa could prove costly.
““We want to play a good match, create opportunities, prevent the opponent from creating opportunities, only that.”, he added.
The semifinal is a repeat of the 2000 AFCON semis where Nigeria defeated South Africa 2-0 on their way to the title.
Peseiro was, however, eager to remind his players that being labeled as favorites meant little at this stage.
“Favorite is not in our heads. If it enters our head, it will fly, you understand,” the 63-year-old said.
South Africa, currently led by Hugo Broos, is looking for their 2nd continental crown after winning it on home soil in 1996 while the Super Eagles are aiming to capture a 4th AFCON title.
But their coach is leaving no stone unturned to keep his players focused and committed to the task at hand against a dangerous South African side.