Nigeria 1998 World Cup Squad – The FULL List

Nigeria 1998 World Cup Squad

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A lot of the players who featured at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic football game found their way into the Nigeria 1998 World Cup Squad – obviously because they won the gold medal.

Whether it was worth it or not is a different story.

France 1998 was the Super Eagles’ second appearance in the World Cup Finals.

But as far as I’m concerned – as most of you will agree with me – it wasn’t the best. The 1994 maiden appearance still stands out for me, ranking 5th position in the world!

No doubt Philippe Troussier did a great job qualifying Nigeria to the World Cup. But what was the Nigeria Football Association, NFA (as they were then know) and sports ministry thinking?!

Troussier wasn’t a world class coach and so what?!

Is the current coach of the Super Eagles a world class coach? Was the one before him a world class coach? Has Nigeria even ever hired a world class coach?!

Obviously, the football federation never knew times like this will come.

They eventually showed Troussier the exit door and hired a ‘’world class coach’’ in the person of Bora Milutinović few months to the World Cup finals in France.

Clearly, appearing in three World Cups impressed the NFA.

But did they know that Milutinović did not qualify any of those teams to the World Cup finals.

Mexico in 1986 and USA in 1994 – they were hosts and did not have to play qualifying matches. There was also Costa Rica in Italia 1990, they fired the coach that qualified them to the World Cup and hired him.

You would expect a football governing body to know these things, right?

But NO!

Nigeria hired him and he led us to France ’98 World Cup, giving Milutinović a fourth World Cup appearance without the rigors of qualifying games.

Those qualifiers would have put Bora’s competence to test.

Denmark mauled Nigeria 4-1 to send us out of the tournament in the second round.

The Nigeria 1998 World Cup Squad just couldn’t match the resilience and flair of the Super Eagles squad 1994 in the US.

Only the 3-2 victory against Spain can be said to be classical and spectacular as it remains memorable.

Nigeria 1998 World Cup Group/Fixtures

1998 World Cup Group D

  • 13th June: Nigeria vs. Spain (3:2) in Nantes
  • 19th June: Nigeria vs. Bulgaria (1:0) in Paris
  • 24th June: Nigeria vs. Paraguay (1:3) in Toulouse

Nigeria won their group thanks largely to their opening game victory against Spain.

Nigeria Squad 1998 Knockout Stage

(2nd Round)

28th June: Nigeria vs. Denmark (1:4) in Saint-Denis.

The 1998 Nigeria world cup squad cannot totally be condemned when you look at their impressive displays in the group games against Spain and Bulgaria. The Super Eagles qualified already after just two matches against the Europeans while losing an unimportant match to Paraguay.

It was when the Bora Milutinović’s side – as group leaders – were drawn with Denmark in the round of 16 that many saw the coaches deficiencies.

The Scandinavians condemned the Nigeria squad 1998 to a humiliating 1-4 defeat breaking the Super Eagles feathers.

1998 Nigeria World Cup Squad

Abiodun Baruwa

Nigeria 1998 World Cup Squad
Former Nigerian goalkeeper Abiodun Baruwa

Baruwa fumbled in the pre-World Cup friendly against Yugoslavia where the Super Eagles lost 0-3. Baruwa needlessly lost possession to Pedrac Mijatovic who capitalized on the error. He was never invited to the Super Eagles again.

William Okpara

Nigeria 1998 World Cup Squad
William Nwadinobi “Willy” Okpara, former Nigerian football goalkeeper

Okpara made it to the World Cup after a convincing performance in a pre-tournament friendly against Germany where Nigeria lost to an Andy Moller’s lone strike. Okpara did not feature in any of the matches and after the competition, the former junior international was ignored by the national team.

Peter Rufai

Super Eagles Legend Peter Rufai to tutor Umuahia Grassroots Coaches

Rufai’s wealth of experience, having played at the previous World Cup in the United States, was the reason he was called upon to boost the defensive formation. He currently runs a football academy called Staruf Football academy for the past eight years.

Celestine Babayaro

Nigeria 1998 World Cup Squad
Former Super Eagles defender, Celestine Hycieth Babayaro

Fast rising Celestine Babayaro benched Ben Iroha especially because he added more attacking options which was evident with his three goals at the Atlanta 96 Olympic. Plagued with recurring injury crises, he called it quits after Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Augustine Eguavoen

Augustine Eguavoen

 Eguavoen suffered the same fate as Uche Okafor as Mobi Oparaku graduated into the mainstream to take his place. Eguavoen played all 90 minutes against Paraguay and was an unused substitute in other games as the 32-year old drew the curtains on his career after Nigeria’s exit.

Benedict Iroha

Nigeria 1998 World Cup Squad
Ex-super Eagles Left-back, Benedict Iroha

Like others, it was also clear that Ben Iroha would be playing his last tournament for Nigeria as Celestine Babayaro matured into the team. Ben Iroha was not used all through the tournament.

Uche Okafor

Nigeria 1998 World Cup Squad
Former Super Eagles defender, Uchenna Kizito Okafor

The emergence of Taribo West made him a second choice in the central defensive position. However, Uche Okafor played in the final group game against Paraguay and after the team were knocked off the competition, the 30-year old made way for younger players. Uche Okafor passed on in 2011 after he was found dead leaving a note indicating his state of depression.

Uche Okechukwu

nigeria squad 1998
Former Super Eagles central defender, Uchechukwu ‘Uche’ Alozie Okechukwu

After late Stephen’s Keshi retirement, Uche Okechukwu AKA the Gentle Giant put his feet in Keshi’s boot. After the painful exit at the tournament, Uche announced his retirement from the national team.

Godwin Okpara

nigeria squad 1998
Ex-Super Eagles defender Godwin Okpara

The former PSG defensive midfielder had a superb season with Strasbourg going into that tournament in France but surprisingly he didn’t get a chance to show his stuff. Okpara never enjoyed first-team action with the national team as the former U-20 retired from international football in 2001. In 2012, Godwin Okpara was accused of serially raping a teenage girl called Tina.

Mobi Oparaku

nigeria squad 1998
Mobi Patrick Oparaku, former Nigerian defender

Oparaku was instrumental in the games he featured for Nigeria but got injured which cost the Super Eagles dearly in the round of 16 match against the Danes. Oparaku never got an invitation to the national team.

Taribo West

Taribo West Celebrated At 46

West fought relentlessly like a soldier but to no avail as the Super Eagles exited from the tournament. West is now a full time pastor and runs a ministry known as “The Storm Miracle Ministries Of All Nations”.

Mutiu Adepoju

Super Eagles Predictable Mutiu Adepoju

Nicknamed headmaster, Adepoju’s equalizer against the Spaniards proved his inclusion into the 1998 Nigeria World Cup squad was not a fluke as the Super Eagles came back twice from behind to beat the highly-rated European nation.

Garba Lawal

Garba Lawal

Lawal evened the scores against Spain with a low drive after Adoni Zubizareta fumbled in goal and he also played in the last group match against Paraguay. As time went on, Lawal became the one of the most versatile players in the Super Eagles fold and was also a very commited player before he ending his career in 2007.

Austin Okocha

Austin Okocha

Jay Jay Okocha got the chance to shine as the new number 10 for the Super Eagles team which he did with his enterprising style of football. Okocha’s magical skills frustrated the Spanish team when Nigeria went ahead for the first time in the match as the Fenerbache midfielder showed dribbling skills.

Sunday Oliseh

Oliseh Reacts Ndidi’s Performance Arsenal

The 25-yard wonder strike against Spain remains a memorable one. The Nigeria squad 1998 seemed one of the best competing nations in the 32-team competition. Oliseh lamented Nigeria’s painful exit following the second-round loss to Denmark saying that the bonuses row with the administration was something that could have been avoided.

Wilson Oruma

nigeria squad 1998
Former Super Eagles midfielder, Wilson Oruma

Wilson Oruma is one of the few players that featured in just one World Cup finals, played only one match and scored just a goal. The former Lens midfielder scored the leveler against the Jose Luis Chilavert led side but it was not enough as Nigeria lost the match 1-3. However Oruma was among the player that were axed from participating in the 2002 edition.

Daniel Amokachi

Nigeria’s 2022 World Cup Qualifying Group

The crisis of injury slowed him down at the tournament. Amokachi could not play against Spain but was featured in the 1-0 victory over Bulgaria. He played 67 minutes against Paraguay but was not fit to play in the knock out stages. The World Cup marked the end of competitive football for the former Everton man as he was snubbed from the national team. He retired prematurely in 1999.  

Tijani Babangida

1998 nigeria world cup squad
Former Super Eagles winger, Tijani Babangida

Babangida scored the only goal against Denmark and also made two appearances as a substitute against Bulgaria and Spain respectively. Babangida now runs his own academy in Minna, Niger state where young and promising talents are given the opportunity to play in Europe.

Finidi George

Finidi George Coach Nigeria

Finidi George was a respected member of the national team following his sterling performance at the previous World Cup and his Champions League-winning exploits with Ajax as well as his summer transfer move to Real Betis in Spain. Finidi had graduated from an emerging player to a world-class winger and he was one of the best players in the Nigeria 1998 World Cup squad.

Victor Ikpeba

1998 nigeria world cup squad
Victor Ikpeba Nosa, former Super Eagles forward

The Prince of Monaco scored a superb goal that gave Nigeria the only victory against Bulgaria after an interchanging pass with Okocha and Amokachi as he dribbled past Ivanov to score from close range. Ikpeba ended the tournament with just one goal which marked a disappointing outing for him.

Nwankwo Kanu

Kanu Nwankwo's Medal

Kanu did not have much of a feel of the tournament but gathered experiences under senior players and the competition itself which he later graduated to become one of Nigeria’s all-time great. A Papilo football academy is credited to him

Rashidi Yekini

Rashidi Yekini

Yekini was already in the twilight of his career but was however included in the squad by Bora Milutinović for reasons best known to him. The FC Zurich striker made an appearance against Spain and almost found the back of the net. Till date, Yekini remains the best Super Eagles striker ever. Yekini died at the age of 48 in 2012 after suffering from depression and an undisclosed psychiatric condition.

Nigeria 1998 World Cup Squad

Jersey No.PositionPlayerClubDOB
22GKAbiodun BaruwaFC Sion16/11/1974
12GKWilly OkparaOrlando Pirates07/05/1968
1GKPeter RufaiDeportivo La Coruña24/08/1963
3DFCelestine BabayaroChelsea FC29/08/1978
17DFAugustine EguavoenTorpedo Moskva19/08/1965
19DFBen IrohaElche CF29/11/1969
16DFUche OkaforKansas City Wizards08/08/1967
5DFUche OkechukwuFenerbahçe27/09/1967
21DFGodwin OkparaRC Strasbourg20/09/1972
2DFMobi OparakuKFC Turnhout01/12/1976
6DFTaribo WestInter26/03/1974
8MFMutiu AdepojuReal Sociedad22/12/1970
11MFGarba LawalRoda JC Kerkrade22/05/1974
10MFJay Jay OkochaFenerbahçe14/08/1973
15MFSunday OlisehAFC Ajax14/09/1974
18MFWilson OrumaRC Lens30/12/1976
14FWDaniel AmokachiBeşiktaş30/12/1972
13FWTijjani BabangidaAFC Ajax25/09/1973
7FWFinidi GeorgeReal Betis15/04/1971
20FWVictor IkpebaAS Monaco12/06/1973
4FWNwankwo KanuInter01/08/1976
9FWRashidi YekiniFC Zürich23/10/1963
ManagerBora Milutinović07/09/1944

Nigeria vs Spain 1998 Lineup

Nigeria vs Spain 1998 world cup held on June 13.

Referee: Esfandiar Baharmast

Venue: Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes

Kick-off: 2.30pm

Goal scorers for Spain:

  • Hierro: 21st min
  • Raúl: 47th min

Goal scorers for Nigeria:

  • Mutiu Adepoju: 25th min
  • Zubizarreta: (own goal) 73rd min
  • Sunday Oliseh: 78th min

Starting lineup:

  1. Goalkeeper: Peter Rufai
  2. Defender: Uche Okechukwu (captain)
  3. Defender: Mobi Oparaku
  4. Defender/Centre back: Taribo West
  5. Defender/Left back: Celestine Babayaro
  6. Midfielder: Mutiu Adepoju
  7. Midfielder: Garba Lawal
  8. Midfielder: Jay Jay Okocha
  9. Midfielder: Sunday Oliseh
  10. Midfielder/Forward: Finidi George
  11. Forward: Victor Ikpeba

Substitutions:

  1. Rachidi Yekini for Mobi Oparaku: 69th min
  2. Tijana Babangida for Victor Ikpeba: 83rd min
  3. Godwin Okpara for Garba Lawal: 90th min

Cards Issued:

Uche Okechukwu: 62nd  min.

See Spain’s lineup here.

See the Nigeria vs Spain 1998 video highlight below:

Nigeria vs. Bulgaria 1998 Lineup

Nigeria v Bulgaria 1998 world cup held on June 19.

Referee: MF Sanchez Yanten

Venue: Parc des Princes, Paris

Kick Off: 17:30 Local (16:30 BST)

Goal scorer for Nigeria:

Victor Ikpeba: 27th min

Starting lineup:

  1. Goalkeeper: Peter Rufai
  2. Defender: Uche Okechukwu (captain)
  3. Defender/Centre back: Taribo West
  4. Defender/Left back: Celestine Babayaro
  5. Midfielder: Mutiu Adepoju
  6. Midfielder: Garba Lawal
  7. Midfielder: Jay-Jay Okocha
  8. Midfielder: Sunday Oliseh
  9. Midfielder/Forward: Finidi George
  10. Forward: Daniel Amokachi
  11. Forward: Victor Ikpeba

Substitutions:

  • Nwankwo Kanu for Victor Ikpeba: 67th min
  • Rachidi Yekini for Daniel Amokachi: 75th min
  • Tijana Babangida for Finidi George: 84th min

Cards:

  • Mutiu Adepoju: 20th min (Y)
  • Uche Okechukwu: 43rd min (Y)
  • Victor Ikpeba :49th min (Y)
  • Jay Jay Okocha: 72nd min (Y)

Nigeria v Paraguay 1998 world cup Lineup

Nigeria v Paraguay 1998 world cup held on June 24

Referee: Pirom Un-Prasert

Venue: Stade De La Mosson, Montpellier

Kick Off: 21:00 Local (20:00 BST)

Goal scorer for Nigeria:

  • Wilson Oruma : 11th min

Goal scorers for Paraguay:

  • Celso Ayala: 1st min
  • Miguel Angel Benitez: 59th min
  • Jose Cardozo: 86th min

Starting lineup:

  1. Goalkeeper: Peter Rufai (captain)
  2. Defender: Augustine Eguavoen
  3. Defender: Benedict Iroha
  4. Defender: Uchenna Okafor
  5. Defender/Centre back: Taribo West
  6. Midfielder: Garba Lawal
  7. Midfielder: Sunday Oliseh
  8. Midfielder: Wilson Oruma
  9. Forward: Tijana Babangida
  10. Forward: Nwankwo Kanu
  11. Forward: Rashidi Yekini

Substitutions:

Godwin Okpara for Sunday Oliseh in the 46th min.

Finidi George for Wilson Oruma in the 69th min.

Cards:

Augustine Eguavoen: 26th min (Y)

Benedict Iroha: 39th min (Y)

Nigeria v Denmark World Cup Lineup

Nigeria v Denmark 1998 world cup held June 28.

Referee: Urs Meier

Venue: Stade de France, Paris

Kick Off: 21:00 Local (20:00 BST)

Goal scorer for Nigeria:

  • Tijana Babangida in the 78th min

Goal scorers for Denmark:

  • Peter Moller in the 3rd min
  • Brian Laudrup in the 12th min
  • Ebbe Sand in the 60th min
  • Thomas Helveg in the             7th min

Starting lineup:

  1. Goalkeeper: Peter Rufai
  2. Defender: Uche Okechukwu (captain)
  3. Defender/Centre back: Taribo West
  4. Defender/Left back: Celestine Babayaro
  5. Midfielder: Mutiu Adepoju
  6. Midfielder: Garba Lawal
  7. Midfielder: Jay Jay Okocha
  8. Midfielder: Sunday Oliseh
  9. Midfielder/Forward: Finidi George
  10. Forward: Victor Ikpeba
  11. Forward: Nwankwo Kanu

Substitutions:

  • Rachidi Yekini for Nwankwo Kanu in the 64th min
  • Tijana Babangida for Garba Lawal in the 72nd min

Cards:

  • Jay Jay Okocha in the 49th min (Y)

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Greg Afamah

Written by Greg Afamah

Greg is a Sports content writer. He has many years of experience in Sports Writing. He was a writer for Opera News and is Editor-in-Chief at GoalBall.

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