Nigeria’s 2002 FIFA World Cup campaign was sabotaged by some senior players in the Super Eagles, former head Coach, Adegboye Onigbinde has alleged.
Nigeria finished bottom of group F behind Sweden, Argentina and England; picking just a point after a goalless result against the Three Lions.
In an exclusive interview with http://www.brila.net Onigbinde revealed that the players invited from the disbanded team after the 2002 AFCON in Mali were the divisive agents in his squad.
The former Eagles Coach explained how the ‘cabal’ arm wrestled the Minister of Sports and NFF to sanction the invitation of some players from the “Mali situation”.
” I regret inviting some of the players and particularly some of some of those from the Super Eagles team at the 2002 AFCON in Mali after they were disbanded,” said Onigbinde.
Onigbinde invited 12 players from the team that played at the 2002 AFCON including Austin Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo, Taribo West, Ifeanyi Udeze and Joseph Yobo.
“Some of those players, not all, sabotaged our world cup campaign in 2002.
“I am not one for making excuses, but they sabotaged us. They gave away two goals against Sweden.
” I don’t want to name them, but I can tell you that Okocha and Kanu were not part of the scheme.
“Those two gave their best, they played well and showed 100 percent commitment.
“Meanwhile, if we had beaten Argentina, we could have gone far in that world cup.
“And that was why against England, I changed the entire team; gave Enyeama his chance and we did wonderfully well.”
The Coach stressed how difficult it was to prepare a team for the World Cup, in three months, but insisted the “team was looking good if you consider the result from our friendlies”.
“I had three months to prepare a team for the world cup. The team was disbanded after the nations cup in Mali. I invited a few of those players, but the others mounted pressure on the NFF.
“They declared that they would sabotage the World cup team unless some of them got invited. We played 7 games in the build up and won five.”
Nigeria’s 2002 FIFA World Cup Squad in Korea/Japan: ( asterisked names were at the 2002 AFCON):