Ex-Super Eagles coach Adeboye Onigbinde has admitted regrets taking some players to the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea.
Onigbinde took over the team from late Amodu Shaibu after the Eagles finished third at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations.
With growing fears that the entire team could be disbanded, the former FIFA and CAF technical director opted to select a few experienced players to beef up his team for the Mundial.
He told NAN in an interview on Friday that he regretted that decision.
“My major undoing was my magnanimity of accepting into my team some members of the Super Eagles team which was disbanded after the 2002 African Nations Cup (AFCON) final in Mali earlier in the year,” Onigbinde said.
“In January and February of 2002, we were at the African Cup of Nations in Mali, where the team collapsed.
“It was disbanded and I was hurriedly called in to come and handle the team to the World Cup.
“By FIFA’s schedule, a coach has one year to prepare a team for the World Cup. But in my case, I had three months.
“I was brought in in March and the competition (the World Cup) was in June. Within that period of three months, we played seven friendly matches, won five and drew two.
“However, I was warned that none of the members of the disbanded team should be called to camp and anyone who came was there to engage in sabotage.
“But when the team started coming up, the old members started making appeals and promises to come and perform, and my regret in that exercise was the mistake of taking them back.
“During the match against Argentina, a key defender in my team opened his mouth and watched as Gabriel Batistuta headed the ball into the net. It was the same defender that gave Sweden their goal.
“This was why in the game match against England, I brought in Vincent Enyeama, Femi Opabunmi and a few others and we got a goalless draw.
“So, if I had used that team against Argentina we probably would have got a draw and I am sure we would have reached the finals of that competition. But all that is history now.”
Nigeria finished third in a group that had Argentina, England, and Sweden, claiming just one point in the process.
This article was most recently revised and updated 3 years ago