‘Musa, Iheanacho Will Play When Needed’, Says Eagles Coach Peseiro

SUPER Eagles coach Jose Peseiro has opened up on the situation of Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho, who is yet to feature for the team at the ongoing 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

Iheanacho was again an unused substitute in Nigeria’s 2-0 win over Cameroon in the round of 16 on Saturday at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan.

Despite being doubtful for the tournament with a muscle injury, Peseiro didn’t replace the 27-year-old in his final 25-man list and allowed him to join the team in Ivory Coast on Saturday January 13, a day before their first match against Equatorial Guinea. The player had missed the team’s camp in Abu Dhabi as a result of his recovery in England.

Iheanacho has, however, declared himself 100 per cent fit and ready to play at the tournament, but he is yet to make any appearance as the team continue their quest for a fourth AFCON title.

“I know his (Kelechi Iheanacho) 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 via 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,” the Portuguese coach added.

“All of them will play when needed. Musa, Ihenacho and the rest’.

Iheanacho is one of the most-experienced players in the Super Eagles team with 47 appearances and 13 goals since making his debut in November 2015 under coach Sunday Oliseh.

However, he is at his second AFCON tournament after debuting at the event in 2022 in Cameroon. He was dropped by coach Genort Rohr in the final 23-man list for the 2019 edition in Egypt.

Nigeria are three times champions of the AFCON in 1980, 1994 and 2013 with hopes of winning a fourth title in Ivory Coast.

Nigeria faces Angola in the quarter-final of the ongoing tournament at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on Friday at 6pm Nigerian time.

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