Nigerian legend Sunday Oliseh believes the Super Eagles would have soared to glory at the 2002 Korea/ Japan World Cup but for saboteurs, even as he chided the officials of the then Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and some media houses for Nigeria’s disastrous participation in the Far East.
The former national team captain opened up on his Super Eagles’ experience in his published autobiography titled ‘Audacity To Refuse’ to be released to the public today.
The former Juventus midfielder who made 63 appearances for the West Africans, took readers through his life’s journey within and outside football but was miffed about the incident that forced his premature exit from international duty in 2002.
As sequel to the Super Eagles’ 2002 Africa Cup of Nations campaign in Mali, Oliseh, writing about ‘The End of the Golden Generation’ said matter-of-factly: “The FA, in collaboration with some media houses, staged a thunderous negative campaign against the Super Eagles.
“They criticized coaches, who had just achieved the impossible by qualifying Nigeria to the 2002 World Cup a few months earlier, were now crucified by some media houses.”
“Some players, especially me by virtue of being the captain, were criticized just as bad, if not worse than the coaches,” the former Ajax star added.
“Because of my obligations with my club BVB (Dortmund) in Germany, and the impossible task of expressing our version of events via the hostile media, Nigerians were deceived and set against the team.”
The team, led by Amodu Shaibu and Stephen Keshi, was disbanded after the 2002 Nations Cup in Mali where they lost to Senegal in the semi-finals and Adegboye Onigbinde was appointed with just three months to the Mundial.
“Combined with their strange behaviour and lack of investment by certain colleagues at the AFCON in Mali, the whole plot finally made sense,” Oliseh continued.
“The team had been methodically set up to fail to reach the FA’s goal of sabotaging and dismantling the team; however, we miraculously got the semi-finals in spite of this plot.”
The 556-paged memoir is Oliseh’s first book and the very first by a member of what is regarded as Nigeria’s Golden Generation that won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations en route to the country’s maiden appearance at the USA’94 World Cup as well as the set that won Nigeria and indeed Africa’s first soccer gold medal at Atlanta ’96.