There was chaos in Nigeria’s camp at the 1994 FIFA World Cup before and after the team’s elimination in the second round fixture against Italy, former Super Eagles striker, Daniel Amokachi revealed, Monday.
Nigeria debut FIFA World Cup appearance started off as a fairytale, but the side was jolted back to reality as they crashed out from the tournament in very dramatic circumstances.
In never before heard revelations, Amokachi opened up on the calamitous run-up to the clash against Italy in the round of 16.
Speaking on his show “The Bull’s Pit” on Brila FM, the former Striker said there was an altercation between two key players and another attacked the Head Coach in the dressing room.
He was reacting to news reports that Chelsea players Antonio Rudiger and Kepa Arrizabalaga had got into a squabble, during practice on Sunday after the weekend’s loss to West Brom.
Per SkySports, the Germany defender was sent to the changing rooms after a late tackle on Kepa caused some pushing and shoving between the pair, but later apologised to his team-mate.
“We are humans and it’ll definitely happen. When you allow somebody bottle so much in, things get out of hand, the best way is to tame it at the slightest notice.”
“People find it weird when grown ups have a go at each other. Sometimes it is allowed for players or people to voice out.
“I’m in support of this and don’t wouldn’t want my players holding it in; I want to hear my players voice out when their teammates aren’t doing what they should or as the Manager I’m not deploying a player as he wants, because we are working for the same goal.”
“But if you have to send a player home, it’s better you send both of the home,” Amokachi said about Tuchel’s decision.
Recalling a similar situation in the Super Eagles, Amokachi described how his teammates, Samson Siasia and Sunday Oliseh had a bust up before the game against Italy.
“I remember in 1994, prior to our match against Italy, Siasia and Oliseh went physical on the pitch in the training ground,” the former Forward said. “Everybody was tensed and it flared up.”
“We always see situations like that; it happened when I was in Club Brugge, in Ranchers (Bees), in Besiktas and Everton. It happens everywhere because we’re just being humans.”
Nigeria lost to Italy 1-2, with late goals from Roberto Baggio (89′, 102′ [PK]), after Emmanuel Amunike’s early goal.
The Super Eagles were eliminated from the World Cup, but blame for Baggio’s equalizer and the eventual defeat were apportioned to Oliseh and Head Coach Clemens Westerhoff respectively.
One vocal voice in the blame game is former Super Eagles Defender, Emeka Ezeugo.
The CB was on the bench against Italy and he insists Nigeria’s ouster from the 1994 World Cup, was due to Westerhoff’s naivety and Oliseh’s poor decision in the build up to Baggio’s leveler.
Amokachi argued that, “It’s normal, everybody has their own opinion. Of course Oliseh hacked the ball away in anger perhaps because Jay Jay Okocha was holding the ball too much or he was angry with some other teammate.
“When the adrenaline kicks in that is what happens.”
“Emeka Ezeugo is a player that has a heart and who will die for Naija (Nigeria) any time any day, of course when you sit on the bench and you see things, definitely you get frustrated.
“After the game, Emeka Ezeugo was the one that attacked Clemens Westerhoff in the locker room. You know, because he is passionate and saw that it was a game we could have easily won.”
On what transpired during the dressing room melee, Amokachi revealed that, “Everybody allowed it to happen, we couldn’t all get into a brawl, but everybody was upset.”
“I was in tears after the game, I practically cried from the pitch to the locker room and the team Bus until we got to the hotel.”
“I didn’t even go to my hotel room. I went walking and found a place to sit for about two hours before I returned, because I saw it was our opportunity to win the World Cup.
“We had everything it took and at that age; I knew and believed in what we had.”
“The attack was verbal but there was also the rage that appeared as though he (Emeka) would lunge at the Coach.”