AFCON 2023: Troost-Ekong agrees that Pesiro did not mix things up at AFCON

Troost-Ekong agrees that Pesiro did not mix things || Imago

AFCON 2023: Troost-Ekong agrees that Pesiro did not mix things up at AFCON

Stephen Oladehinde 18:52 - 21.02.2024

In a revealing chat with CNN World Sport's Amanda Davies, Super Eagles' deputy skipper William Troost-Ekong shared his candid thoughts on Nigeria's narrow defeat to Ivory Coast in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations showdown.

Despite taking an early lead with his head, Troost-Ekong watched as Ivory Coast clawed back to a 2-1 victory, courtesy of goals from Franck Kessie and Sebastian Haller.

The conversation took an introspective turn, examining the tactical decisions that might have swayed the final's outcome.

Tactical Reflections and the Super Eagles' Journey

Troost-Ekong didn't shy away from suggesting that a tactical pivot from manager Jose Peseiro could have altered the final's narrative.

While he expressed staunch support for Peseiro, he concurred with critics who felt the coach's adherence to a consistent tactical approach may have been a misstep in the crucial final match.

"The Portuguese could have made some adjustments to the squad for the final," Troost-Ekong remarked, as reported by Allnigeriasoccer, yet he quickly added, "I backed the coach one hundred per cent and gave him a massive compliment for getting the Super Eagles going after some difficult years."

Super Eagles captain William Troost Ekong | Imago
Super Eagles captain William Troost Ekong | Imago

The assistant captain praised Peseiro for instilling a distinct playing style within the team, although he acknowledged that their defensive strategy, typically a bastion of strength, faltered when it mattered most.

This tactical rigidity, especially against an Ivory Coast side keen on redemption after a group-stage defeat, was pinpointed as a critical factor in the Super Eagles' loss.

Tactical Acumen and Moving Forward

Troost-Ekong lauded Ivory Coast's interim coach Emerse Faé for his tactical acumen, crediting him for outmanoeuvring Nigeria with a superior game plan. This acknowledgement points to the fine margins that often decide the outcomes of major tournaments.

Jose Peseiro  (Photo Credit: Imago)
Jose Peseiro (Photo Credit: Imago)

Reflecting on the tournament as a whole, Troost-Ekong described the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations as his most memorable, enriched by his accolade as the tournament's best player.

"Winning the Best Player of the Tournament award will stay with me for the rest of my life," he shared, marking the achievement as a pinnacle of his career.