Why Onigbinde dropped Oliseh, Agali, seven other players from 2002 World Cup – Finidi

Why Onigbinde dropped Oliseh, Agali, seven other players from 2002 World Cup – Finidi
Finidi George

Nigerian football icon, Finidi George, has opened up on the reason experienced stars like Captain Sunday Oliseh, Victor Agali, and seven others were dropped from the Super Eagles squad at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Speaking on PUNCH Online TV programme 'Kick and Follow' on Monday, the former Ajax player stated that coach Adegboyega Onigbinde was coerced into dropping nine senior players from the tournament in Korea/Japan.

"Tijani Babangida and I were among the nine who didn't make it to the main event despite helping the Super Eagles to secure the W/C ticket under the then team's coach Shaibu Amodu and his assistant, Stephen Keshi, who were also sacked after getting the job done," he said.

Although Onigbinde took over from Amodu, Finidi faulted his former colleagues for not speaking up for the players who were dropped from the squad following a row between players and officials at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations in Mali.

"I think there was pressure on him (Onigbinde) because I don't think that he did that on his own," Finidi said.

"He did not know much about that team and I can state that he never knew team players characters.

"We (players) had a confrontation in Mali (with officials), and at the end of the day, I was disappointed but I will not blame him.

"There was pressure from the top. Our exclusion from the team was not for football reasons but because we spoke out for what we deserved.

"If I was one of the senior players who was picked I would have spoken out that it will be unfair to leave the other experienced players out from the squad for the World Cup.

"We were part of the team that traveled across Africa to war-torn areas to qualify the team for the competition. We didn't deserve that treatment."

Onigbinde took charge of the team in Korea and Japan but the Eagles failed to soar beyond the group stages after losing to Sweden and Argentina in Group F.

Nigeria bowed out with just one point following the goalless draw against the Three Lions of England on June 12, 2002.

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