Axed interim manager of the Super Eagles, Augustine Eguavoen, has come out to debunk claims that he was ordered to play both Emmanuel Dennis and Calvin Bassey in the second leg of the doubleheader qualifier playoff against Ghana.
The Watford attacker and the Glasgow Rangers fullback were both complicit in Nigeria’s failure to kill the game which they ended up drawing 1-1 to Ghana, who went on to the 2022 FIFA World Cup on the away goals rule.
The failure to get Nigeria a ticket to Qatar saw Eguavoen relieved of his interim duties alongside all of his technical crew. Nigerian fans have also been relentless in their bashing of the former Super Eagles captain on social media and on broadcast media.
Earlier this week, new claims have been made of Eguavoen being influenced by the Nigerian Football Federation to field Dennis and Bassey in the game. The reader will recall how the NFF travelled to England on a number of occasions in order to get Dennis to commit to Nigeria.
Eguavoen has rubbished the news, claiming that both players earned their starting positions according to his technical assessment of the first leg. “I’ve read the stories that I was ordered to play Bassey and Dennis by the Nigerian FA. It couldn’t be further from the truth.
“The truth is Calvin Bassey started because he did well in the first leg when he replaced Zaidu Sanusi. He deserved to start in the next game. The only people I discussed selections with were my backroom staff. They gave me their own selections too and I slept on it and made my decision on the day of the game.
“Calvin Bassey has been doing well at Rangers and Emmanuel Dennis has impressed at Watford. I stand by my decision to use both of them.”
Dennis is currently back in England trying to help Watford avoid relegation from the Premier League after one season back. Meanwhile, Bassey is expected to participate in Rangers Europa League fixture against Sporting Braga on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Chris Giwa has joined calls for Nigerians to remain calm and not take their expression of disappointment in the NFF and the Super Eagles to dangerous lengths.
Ambassador Giwa, who is recognised by the Supreme Court as the legitimate president of the NFF, released a statement on Thursday asking Nigerians to put the defeat behind them and move on.
“I must say that though the defeat is very painful to swallow, we must put ourselves together and look ahead as quickly as possible,” Giwa said.
“I don't think this is the time we should start talking about who is to blame for the ouster because the deed has been done and everybody involved should learn from this ahead of other qualifiers.
“I was so impressed with the fans who made sure the Eagles did not lack support on the day. They filled the stadium and many were still outside which for me further showed again that football is one of the major unifying factors in the Country.”
Ambassador Giwa then stressed that all hands must be on deck to ensure that this disaster does not repeat itself ahead of the 2023 Nations Cup in Ivory Coast and the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago