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Afcon 2023: Nigeria manager Jose Peseiro says Super Eagles were ‘nervous’ in final defeat to Ivory Coast

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The Afcon football trophy

Nigeria manager Jose Peseiro says the Super Eagles “could not play at their level” as they suffered a fifth Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) final defeat by losing to Ivory Coast at the 2023 edition.

William Troost-Ekong’s first-half header put Peseiro’s side on course for a fourth title, only for the Elephants to score twice after the 61st minute to seal a comeback triumph.

“Ivory Coast were better than us and played very well,” said Peseiro, whose team beat their opponents during the group stage.

“Our team didn’t show our level. I’m sad, my team is sad. Sometimes you want to do something but you cannot.

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“I don’t know why, but I didn’t feel my players were comfortable. We lost many balls from the back. That allows their players to create more attacks.”

Nigeria ‘felt nervous’ in 2023 Afcon final

Troost-Ekong’s goal was Nigeria’s only shot on target as Ivory Coast dominated the final in Abidjan.

Franck Kessie deservedly nodded his team level before Sebastien Haller’s 81st-minute strike proved decisive.

Having gone unbeaten and defeated South Africa on penalties in the semi-finals, the 2013 champions finished the tournament in meek fashion.

“The second half was more balanced between the teams,” said Peseiro, who has been in charge since 2022.

“We can speak about strategies and systems, but our team could not play at their level, individually and collectively.

“Ivory Coast were fantastic. They didn’t feel nervous. My team and players felt nervous. It can happen in football.

“Everybody must congratulate my players. They had a fantastic tournament.”