Former Super Eagles winger Finidi George has revealed that coach Adegboye Onigbinde was pressurised to drop nine senior players from the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan, after helping them qualify for the football showpiece event, The PUNCH reports.
The 50-year-old, who scored eight goals in 45 matches for Nigeria, also faulted his former colleagues for not speaking up for the players who were dropped from the 2002 World Cup.
Captain Sunday Oliseh, winger Tijani Babangida, Finidi and striker Victor Agali were the major players who were left out of the squad following a row between players and officials at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations in Mali.
The team’s coach Shaibu Amodu and his assistant Stephen Keshi were also dropped, with a new technical crew, headed by Adegboye Onigbinde, taking charge of the team in Korea and Japan.
“I think there was pressure on him (Onigbinde) because I don’t think that he did that on his own,” Finidi told PUNCH Online TV programme Kick and Follow.
“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 treatmenter.