On Wednesday evening, there came word from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) of the appointment of Portuguese manager Jose Peseiro to the post of Nigeria manager. While he will take charge of the Super Eagles for the first time later this month, this will not be his first turn working with Nigerian players.
Here are five Nigerians with whom Peseiro has crossed paths over the course of his coaching career.
Pascal Kondaponi (CD Nacional, 2002/2003)
This little-known Nigerian enjoyed a peripatetic career spanning over 10 clubs and taking in Portugal, China, Mexico and Israel. In the midst of all that movement, Pascal briefly played under Peseiro while the Coruche-born manager was in charge at CD Nacional in the early 2000s.
Joseph Enakarhire (Sporting Lisbon, 2004/2005)
Peseiro’s stint in charge of Sporting Lisbon was arguably the highlight of his coaching career. The Lions progressed all the way to the final of the UEFA Cup, and were in the running for the league title until the penultimate match of the season.
Defender Enakarhire, who joined at the start of that term from Belgian club Standard Liege, was a stalwart at the back, starting 19 of 34 league matches and all but three matches of Sporting’s European run.
Enarkahire’s departure to Dinamo Moscow coincided with the poor start to the 2005/06 league season that led to Peseiro’s resignation. The pair would be reunited in 2007 when Panathinaikos, who had appointed the Portuguese manager, took the Nigeria international on loan from Dinamo.
Elderson Echiejile (Braga, 2012/2013)
Former Nigerian left-back and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winner Echiejile was arguably at the very peak of his abilities when he crossed paths with Peseiro at Braga. Appointed at the start of the 2012/13 season to replace Leonardo Jardim, the former Saudi Arabia boss enjoyed a relatively successful lone season in charge of the club, leading them to a league cup title – their first trophy of any kind for close to half a century.
Along the way, he handed Echiejile 22 starts in all competitions that campaign, 17 of those coming in the league and three coming in the Champions League.
Chidozie Awaziem (Porto, 2015/16)
Peseiro’s reign in charge of Porto lasted only half a season, and has come to be viewed overwhelmingly negatively. However, from a Nigerian perspective, he fulfilled an important function in his time in the Estadio do Dragao dugout: handing a senior top-flight debut to a young Awaziem.
In one of his first acts as coach, Peseiro gave Awaziem his first-team debut in the league cup, and a fortnight later, the talented Nigerian made his league bow in a high-pressure O Classico victory over Benfica on account of injuries to regulars Maicon and Ivan Marcano. He would go on to make nine more starts in that campaign, earning his first international call-up in April of the same year and making his maiden appearance a year later.
Chidi Osuchukwu (Braga, 2016/2017)
Former Nigeria youth international and Dolphins midfielder Osuchukwu joined Braga in 2013 on the back of his performances at that year’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Turkey. Despite spending four years on the books, he never quite made an impression in Portugal though, and departed for Belarus in 2017.
His sole first-team appearance for the Archbishops however came under Peseiro’s direction. Osuchukwu came off the bench in a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo during Braga’s Cup triumph over Oliveirense, playing the final two minutes of action.