The 2002 AFCON In Mali Was A Corrupt Tournament - Sunday Oliseh

By Ibrahim Taiwo , The Nigerian Voice Sports
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Former Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh has revealed his experience with the Super Eagles during his nine years as a player.

Oliseh, who was a key member of the Super Eagles team that won the AFCON in 1994 in Tunisia, under the tutelage of Dutch tactician, Clemens Westerhof.

The former Borussia Dortmund midfielder made 63 appearances for the Super Eagles before retiring in 2002.

He explained that the 1994 AFCON tournament opened doors of opportunities for him as he secured a move to Italy to play for Reggiana, becoming the first Nigerian to feature in the Serie A.

Oliseh told The Punch "The 1994 Afcon was very special for me. In fact, it was my first major tournament for Nigeria in Tunisia and we had some great talents in the squad at that time"

"We were favourites heading into the tournament and we ended up winning it. On an individual note, it was the breakthrough for me at international level."

“I was blessed to be the one that gave the pass to the late Rashidi Yekini for our team’s first goal and I was also the one that gave Emmanuel Amuneke the final pass to score the winning goal in the final against Zambia.

“So, it was like I opened the tournament and closed it for my country. It was really exceptional and special for me. I was voted the player of the tournament by France Football and that was a confirmation that I could really go further with my game.

Oliseh was dismissed from the national team after the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations in Mali and subsequently missed the World Cup that same year.

“The Nations Cup in Mali could simply be tagged the corruption tournament. It was all about corruption. Those in charge of the football body then were not prepared to share Fifa’s World Cup money with the players,” he added.

"That was the main issue, but they succeeded in deceiving the country that the players were indisciplined. The players didn’t get a dime. The entire €1m went to the federation. So, the only way the players didn’t get what they deserved was to get rid of the leader and that was me, and Finidi George."

"I approached the sports minister then that we were tired of being owed and it was unfair. All I heard was that for standing up to the minister you’re not going to captain the team to the World Cup. Finidi George was dropped because he was aware. It’s always been one man’s world against the NFF and the one man is wrong."

Oliseh was also part of the squad that won the 1996 Olympic Gold medal in Atlanta later managed the Super Eagles in 2015 but didn't last more than a year after falling out with some senior players and disagreements with the NFF