February 21, 2024

1994 squad best Super Eagles in Nigerian football history – Odegbami

Solving Nigeria’s unending sports development challenge!, by Segun Odegbami

By Biodun Busari

Nigerian football legend, Segun Odegbami has said that the Super Eagles squad of 1994 was the best the country has ever produced.

The 1994 squad was managed by a Dutch football coach Clemens Westerhof, won the African Cup of Nations hosted by Tunisia, and also made their first appearance at the FIFA World Cup tournament in the United States.

Prominent players of the team were the late Stephen Keshi, Austine Eguavon, Uche Ikechukwu, Ben Iroha, Sunday Oliseh, Samson Siasia, Austine Jay Jay Okocha, Daniel Amokachi, Finidi George, Emmanuel Amuneke, Peter Rufai, and host of others including late Rashidi Yekini leading the attack.

Speaking about the squad, Odegbami said the players were exceptional players with individual talents who also understood how to play as a team with unrivaled tactics and physical strength.

Odegabmi who was part of the Nigerian delegation at the just concluded AFCON 2023 in Cote D’Ivoire made this known in a recent exclusive interview with Vanguard in Lagos. 

The ex-international said the Super Eagles in 1994 also took Nigeria to the 5th position in the FIFA ranking because of their exceptional skills and strength.  

He said, “Well, football is a generational thing. And the best footballers are not made, they are born. If you don’t have them, you don’t have them. And, if you have them, you have them. 

“It’s like saying how do we get another Jay Jay Okocha. If it is possible for us to go and design another Jay Jay and bring him back, we will do so, but it is not possible.

“He came at a time and did what he did, just as Muda Lawal came at a time and did what he did. Kanu came at a time and did what he did. You cannot replicate these people. 

“We don’t have them in this squad. But then, our strength is still our strength. We have very fast players, we have very tall players, we have very strong players, those are physical attributes.” 

The 71-year-old also said the 1994 squad was an attacking-minded team when comparing them to Jose Peseiro’s side that won silver medals in Ivory Coast in February.

He said, “But when it comes to tactics and skills, we are not quite as good and physically strong as the 1994 squad. That squad was a collection of exceptional players who played to our strength. 

“They played very attacking football that time. Now, we are more defensive because of the style he (Peseiro) introduced but it got us to the final, so you cannot even fault that too much. But in the final, we succumbed to a better, more organised, more motivated, better-inspired team.” 

“But the 1994 squad was the best team without question, probably the best squad. Statistically, the best squad in our history because they took us to fifth place in FIFA ranking,” he added.

Odegbami was a member of the Green Eagles national team that won the first African Cup of Nations title for the country in 1980 when Nigeria hosted AFCON.

He scored 23 goals in 46 games for Nigeria.