Super Eagles handler to the Korea/Japan 2002 FIFA World Cup, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, has claimed that his untouchable defender, Taribo West, sabotaged the team’s aspiration to do well in the competition by deliberately allowing opposing teams to score goals against the Nigerian team.
Onigbinde, revealed to Newtelegraph that, inviting the likes of Taribo, Jay Jay Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo and other Eagles stars from the disbanded Mali 2002 Nations Cup team was a big mistake.
He said, “Soon after the collapse of the Super Eagles team at the Mali 2002 Nations Cup, I was with the then Sports Minister, late Ishaya Mark Aku, in Abuja, when one of his aides brought a security report from the department of State Service, SSS, which the minister gave me to read.
It states that, “The disbanded Eagles players had agreed that, if the new Eagles coach should invite some of the players and not all of them for the World Cup, none of them would honour the invitation.
“Five minutes later, another security report came, and it reads, if any member of the Mali 2002 squad is invited to the World Cup 2002 team, such would be coming to sabotage the team.”
According to the former coach, he left all the disbanded stars out of the new Eagles initially for all the seven pre-World Cup friendly matches played, out of which his boys predominantly home-based stars, won five.
“It was when we played our last friendly game in England that I invited four players from the disbanded team; Taribo West, Kanu Nwankwo, Austin Okocha and Ike Shorunmu.
The four players blended with the team during the preparations until we got to the World Cup proper.
“The other three players stood neutral while Taribo West acted as the saboteur and he sabotaged the team in two crucial group games against Argentina and Sweden.
“In the match against Argentina, Taribo deliberately stood flat footed and never jumped to contest the ball from a corner kick to allow Gabriel Bastituta to score Argentina’s only goal of the match to beat Nigeria 1-0.
“If the match had ended in a draw, Nigeria would have had the chance to qualify for the next round of the competition and subsequently move to the finals of the competition.
“The second one was against Sweden, when Taribo left Henrik Larsson unmarked to score a goal. In that same match, the penalty foul Taribo committed against Henrik Larsson was also deliberate; he kicked the Swede without justification when he had the opportunity to clear the ball into safety.
“So in all, he gave out three solid goals that sent Nigeria out of the 2002 World Cup. When these happened I remembered the security report.”