Two different indigenous coaches – Amodu Shuaibu and Stephen Keshi – qualified Nigeria for the Japan/Korea 2002 World Cup. But who were the footballer who featured in the Nigeria 2002 World Cup squad?
I’ll touch on that shortly.
Amodu and Keshi were brought in for a rescue mission after the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, sacked Bonfrere Jo.
But after the 2002 Nations Cup in Mali where the Super Eagles lost to Senegal in the semifinal, the pair were sacked few months to the World Cup and Adegboye Onigbinde was called upon.
The politics that engulfed the team was so much that some players like Sunday Oliseh and Finidi George were dropped from the Nigeria 2002 World Cup squad.
To cut my long story short, that particular Super Eagles team failed woefully, losing two matches and drawing one against England who didn’t need to win to move on the to the next stage.
You know the saddest part, they scored just ONE goal in that competition!
Yes, that’s how bad it was.
SEE ALSO | Best All-Time Super Eagles of Nigeria XI
Nigeria 2002 World Cup squad
Ejide was one of the local Nigerian goalkeepers drafted into the Nigeria squad 2002 World Cup and didn’t make any appearance owing to the pecking order in that department.
The fantastic save he made, parrying a long range effort from Paul Scholes, earned him plaudits from admirers.
Having missed out at the last World Cup in France, the 34-year-old reclaimed his spot as number one.
Another player who never kicked the ball at the World Cup as the defender was on the sidelines in all three matches.
At 23, this was his second appearance at the World Cup. Babayaro established himself as the best left-back in the continent following a rising profile with his English club, Chelsea.
The Enyimba player did not kick a single ball for the Super Eagles at the competition.
The central defensive pairing of Isaac Okoronkwo with Taribo West was a complete disaster as the duo could not complement each other leaving the backline porous to attackers.
Made an appearance with the Super Eagles for the first time at the World Cup in 2002. Sodje was on duty against Argentina in the first match and England in the third.
He was always playing as second preferred left-back to Celestine Babayaro. Udeze featured against Sweden and England.
This was the last competition Taribo West featured for the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
The former Real Sociedad midfielder was one of the senior players who escaped being axed from the Nigeria 2002 World Cup squad owing to a gang-up by his teammates at the Nations Cup same year.
A new entrant in the Nigeria World Cup squad. Christopher was invited to fit into Sunday Oliseh’s role. The six-foot-plus Royal Antwerp defensive midfielder was involved in the matches against Sweden and England.
Lawal was the number one player at the receiving end for Super Eagles’ poor showing against the Argentines. He was condemned to the bench for the rest of the competition.
The former U-17 captain played two friendlies before the World Cup and was in action against Sven Goran Erikson’s English tutored side.
The expulsion of Sunday Oliseh made way for the Paris Saint Germain playmaker to wears the captain’s arm-band to lead the Nigeria squad at the 2002 World Cup.
The 21-years-old featured as a right-back and provided the assist that gave Nigeria’s only goal scored at the 2002 World Cup.
Scored a header – the only goal – against Sweden and celebrated his goal with his summersault flips trademark. Still, Nigeria lost 1-2 at full time.
Even though he was on the pitch all 90 minutes against the Three Lions of England, Akwegbu failed to score for the Super Eagles.
The petite and exciting winger was used as a substitute in all three matches played in the group but failed to make a meaningful impact.
The former Iwuayanwu Nationale didn’t get quality play time at the previous tournament but in France he played 48 minutes in the 0-1 defeat to Argentina and came in as a second half substitute against Sweden.
His spectacular bicycle kick against Paraguay in a pre-World Cup friendly is unforgettable! Probably what earned Ogbeche a place in the Nigeria 2002 World Cup squad as he played two games at the tournament.
So young, just 17-year-old and pacy. He got a golden opportunity to shine brightly at the World Cup but it was only in one match against England.
The former Portsmouth forward’s impact was not felt in the match against Sweden.
Nigeria squad in the 2002 World Cup
|12||Austin Ejide||Gabros International FC||1984-04-08|
|22||Vincent Enyeama||Enyimba Aba||1982-08-29|
|1||Ike Shorunmu||FC Luzern||1967-10-16|
|13||Rabiu Afolabi||Standard Liège||1980-04-18|
|3||Celestine Babayaro||Chelsea FC||1978-08-29|
|19||Eric Ejiofor||Maccabi Haifa||1979-12-17|
|5||Isaac Okoronkwo||Shakhtar Donetsk||1978-05-01|
|16||Efe Sodje||Crewe Alexandra||1972-10-05|
|14||Ifeanyi Udeze||PAOK Saloniki||1980-07-21|
|6||Taribo West||1. FC Kaiserslautern||1974-03-26|
|8||Mutiu Adepoju||UD Salamanca||1970-12-22|
|15||Justice Christopher||Royal Antwerp FC||1981-12-24|
|11||Garba Lawal||Roda JC Kerkrade||1974-05-22|
|20||James Obiorah||Lokomotiv Moskva||1978-08-24|
|10||Jay Jay Okocha||Paris Saint-Germain||1973-08-14|
|2||Joseph Yobo||Olympique Marseille||1980-09-06|
|17||Julius Aghahowa||Shakhtar Donetsk||1982-02-12|
|18||Benedict Akwuegbu||Shenyang Haishi||1974-11-03|
|7||Pius Ikedia||AFC Ajax||1980-07-11|
|4||Nwankwo Kanu||Arsenal FC||1976-08-01|
|9||Bartholomew Ogbeche||Paris Saint-Germain||1984-10-01|
|23||Femi Opabunmi||Shooting Stars FC||1985-03-03|
|21||John Utaka||Al Sadd||1982-01-08|