Porto coach explains why he replaced struggling Sanusi

PORTO, PORTUGAL - AUGUST 08: Zaidu Sanusi of FC Porto in action during the Liga Bwin match between FC Porto and Belenenses Sad at Estadio do Dragao on August 8, 2021 in Porto, Portugal. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Porto coach Sérgio Conceição was on media duties at the weekend shortly after his side came from behind to beat Vitória Guimarães SC 2-1 on matchday 11 of the Liga Portugal and one of the subjects he discussed was Zaidu Sanusi.

Sanusi has been left out of the Super Eagles squad for the upcoming 2026 World Cup qualifying matches against Lesotho and Zimbabwe because there had been concerns about his fitness, with the left-back just returning to action five days ago after an injury layoff that kept him sidelined for seven weeks.

Four days after Zaidu was named in the starting lineup for the visit of Antwerp in the Champions League, he retained his place in the starting XI for the away tie at Vitória Guimarães SC but was replaced nine minutes into the second half.

After André Silva’s 17th minute opener, Zaidu restored parity in the 39th minute when he headed home a cross from Francisco Conceição – his first goal of the 2023-2024 campaign in what was his sixth appearance.

Before the Nigeria international made way for Wenderson Galeno, play was delayed a bit because he was down on the turf.

On Zaidu, Conceição was quoted as saying: “He had a strong stomp, he was in difficulty and before that I felt he wasn’t doing so well.

“We cannot forget the time off, the two games he played after the injury and finding a competitive rhythm is never easy.

“He had the merit of appearing to score the goal and when I saw him struggling I put Taremi and Galeno in, lowering Pepê. It paid off, because we could have scored more goals.”

Super Eagles coach Jose Peseiro has picked four players capable of playing in the left-back role for the double header this month, namely Calvin Bassey, Jamilu Collins, Ola Aina and Bruno Onyemaechi.