Ahead of the Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana clash on Saturday in the 2019 AFCON qualifiers, former Nigeria defensive midfielder Emeka Ezeugo has opened up on an ugly incident that took place in 1993 involving the national team and former Sports minister Alex Akinyele
It was the second leg, First Round of the 1994 World Cup qualifiers between South Africa and Nigeria in Johannesburg.
In an interview with Izuchukwu Okosi [complete sports] Ezeugo recalled how he fearlessly called the bluff of the onetime Chairman of the National Sports Commission with Nigeria chasing a first World Cup appearance in a crucial Group D game.
“The 1994 World Cup qualifier that ended goalless in Johannesburg in 1993 was my most memorable against South Africa,” Ezeugo narrated.
“I still remember the game like it happened few minutes ago. The referee alone will explain why he disallowed Rashidi Yekini’s goal.
“It’s one game a lot of the players on the pitch were affected by Jo’burg’s High Altitude and I was the only player on top of his game. Every player on the pitch was calling me to come and help him. I was indefatigable, my simplicity and technique were so refined and I looked flawless in that game.
“It’s one game that I didn’t like the result. Alex Akinyele, the Sports Minister then, came into our dressing room at halftime to talk trash with his entourage, and I showed them the door. Super Eagles failed to function like a well oiled machine though.
“Alex had a South African wife and he wanted to impress his in-laws, I was later informed by one of his PAs. I knew then that he never took part in any competitive sport during his youthful days.”
Ezeugo, nicknamed The Destroyer during his playing days, explained further how he stood up against the former sports minister.
“He came with his entourage and was questioning why we haven’t scored goals, and coach Clemence Westerhof didn’t say a thing and I went straight to the door and ordered everyone out.
“His visit was so ill timed. Westerhof had no time at all for halftime pep talk. We went back into the pitch (for the second half) without a word from the coach, can you believe it?
“Rashidi Yekini’s goal was not offside. The referee knew he goofed. That was the reason he disallowed the last minute goal by South Africa to balance it,” Ezeugo stressed.