Exclusive: How Some Senior Super Eagles Players Sabotaged My Efforts At 2002 World Cup –Onigbinde
Former Super Eagles coach, Chief Adeboye Onigbinde has made a startling revelation that some senior players in the senior national team sabotaged his efforts during Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup.
Recall that Onigbinde was saddled with the responsibility of taking over the team from late coach, Shuabu Amodu after the Super Eagles finished third at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations.
However at the World Cup, the team finished fourth with one point in a group that contains Argentina, Sweden and England. Nigeria lost 1-0 to Argentina, then lost 2-1 to Sweden before holding England to a goalless draw in their final group game.
In a chat with Completesports.com, Onigbinde stated that his efforts was sabotaged by the senior players who happens to be foreign based players.
"In 2002, I had three months to prepare the team for the World Cup finals. And coincidentally, there was an incident between the old players and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). The players after a match somewhere, they decided they are no longer entering into the team. And unfortunately, it was at that time I was hired to handle the national team. The first black man to handle the national team, to a world Cup.
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"So I had to do my usual job again, go into the field to bring up unknown players. Within the three months I played seven international friendly matches, and we won five and drew two. When the powers that be saw that the results were coming they brought pressure on me to bring back some of the old players. I brought them back a couple of weeks before we went to Korea/Japan and it was some of these players that sabotage my game against Argentina and Sweden before I now change to my own boys against England and we played a draw with them.
"For instance, the game against Argentina, a prominent defender could only watch while Bastituta headed the ball into our net after a cornerkick was played. He didn't challenge him. Bastituta was right in front of him and he watched him nodded the ball into my net. I don't complain because there is God. Against Sweden, it was the same player who gave Sweden their two goals and that was why I changed the team against England. I went back to my new boys and we played a draw against England. That team would probably have entered the finals of that tournament that year if there was no element of sabotage. I am not regretting anything. I played the role I was allowed to play.
"I am just trying to emphasize the need for developmental programs. That was the year I brought Femi Opabumi, Vincent Enyeama and others. I don't claim glory for anything but are we facing the reality. I have been with FIFA for 20 years and CAF for 25 years and I developed programmes for development for the two bodies. But of what use is Nigeria making of all these."
By Augustine Akhilomen
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