Former Super Eagles striker Benedict Akwuegbu has revealed that the three-time African champions missed the services of some of the experience players at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
Then team captain Sunday Oliseh, Finidi George, Victor Ikpeba and other senior players were dropped from the squad following their unresolved differences with the NFF hierarchy after the Mali 2002 African cup of Nations.
Coach Festus Onigbinde, who took over the team from after the Super Eagles finished third at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations, in conjunction with the NFF decided to invite new players and dropped the big names.
While speaking with footballlive Akwuegbu, who was part of the squad to the world tournament lauded the decision to invite younger players to the team, but he admitted the Eagles suffered in the absence of the experience players.
“I think it was the right decision to by the NFF, because they wanted to encourage them and that time these players were very young and eager to play, but you can have a mix of experience and young players.”
“But, I think they should have included players like Sunday Oliseh, Finidi George, Tijani Babangida because their experience would have helped the team.
“These guys had played in two world cup and that would have bring a lot to the team.”
Akwuegbu added that the NFF should have resolved their differences with the experienced players and take them to them to the World Cup.
“NFF should have resolved the problem and brought those players back to the team and take them to the 2002 World cup, which would have made the team stronger and other countries would have been afraid of Nigeria.”
“So it was a pity that Oliseh and co were not included in the team, because these players are massive, they would have been assets to any team in the world,” he concluded.
It would be recalled that the Super Eagles crashed out of the tournament in the first round following defeats to Argentina and Sweden.
Akwuegbu made his solitary appearance at the tournament in the third group game against England that ended in a scoreless draw.