Former Nigerian midfielder, Finidi George has disclosed why some of the senior players, including himself, were dropped from the squad to the 2002 World Cup by former Super Eagles coach, Adegboye Onogbinde.
Finidi made this revelation in an interview with The PUNCH Online TV programme Kick and Follow, where he said that Onigbinde was pressured by the powers at the top to exclude them from the squad.
Recall that the former Real Betis star played an integral role in Nigeria’s qualification to the Mundial when the team was being managed by late coach, Shaibu Amodu and his assistant Stephen Keshi.
Some of the senior players dropped from the squad include Victor Agali, Tijani Babangida, Sunday Oliseh, Victor Ikpeba Nosa, and George Finidi. But Finidi stated that the players didn’t deserve such unfair treatment from them.
“I think there was pressure on him (Onigbinde) because I don’t think that he did that on his own. 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.
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“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.”