Jose Mourinho has described his compatriot and Super Eagles coach, Jose Peseiro, as his best friend.
The recently sacked AS Roma coach was touted as the one who recommended Peseiro to the Nigeria Football Federation, and ahead of Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations final against hosts Ivory Coast, Mourinho sent some goodwill messages to his compatriot.
“My best friend in football is in the final. The Nigerian coach is my best friend. We grew up together. We studied together. We went to university on the same day. We spent five years together, every day. We left at the same time,” Mourinho told football.com.
“He’s probably my biggest friend in football. And for him, it’s a huge opportunity to make history because never has a Portuguese coach won the African Cup.”
Since taking over the Eagles job in 2022, Peseiro has been a subject of criticism from Nigerians, but the 63-year-old has turned the narrative around at the AFCON, leading the Eagles to the final.
Peseiro’s men began their campaign with a disappointing 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea before defeating Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau 1-0 each. In the round of 16, Nigeria defeated arch-rivals Cameroon 2-0 before defeating Angola 1-0 in the final eight.
Peseiro’s side needed a 4-2 penalty shootout victory over South Africa after 120 minutes of football finished 1-1.
However, his side suffered a 2-1 defeat to host Ivory Coast on Sunday in the finals of the 2023 AFCON.
Before the AFCON, some fans urged Mourinho to replace Peseiro as Nigeria’s coach after the former Chelsea manager was fired by Roma.
Although the NFF extended Peseiro’s contract for another year in 2023, with a stipulation requiring him to reach at least the AFCON semi-finals, it is unclear whether he would stay on the job in the near future.