The Super Eagles squad that went to France 98 did not win anything, but they brought joy to Nigerians according to a former Chelsea star.
Nigeria had the likes Austin Jay-Jay Okocha, Sunday Oliseh and Victor Ikepba in the squad, and Celestine Babayaro believes it was the last time the Super Eagles were a real force in world football.
Although the France 98 side did not win a trophy, the former Chelsea star who was also a member of that team says every player was a starter at their clubs, and that’s what separates them from other Nigerian sides.
The Super Eagles did not play at the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations after they were banned for deciding to withdraw from the 1996 edition in South Africa.
However, they made their second appearance in the World Cup at France 98. Their adventure began with a stunning win over one of the favourites Spain.
They followed up the victory with a 1-0 win over Bulgaria, before losing to Paraguay in their last group match. But the loss did not matter as they qualified as group winners.
Nonetheless, Nigeria’s journey ended in their next game as they lost 4-1 to Denmark. But despite their exit in the second round, Babayaro believes that side was the best Nigerian side ever, singling out Jay-Jay Okocha for praise.
“Everyone in that 98 squad was a starter for his individual club,” Babayaro said in an interview with Skysports with quotes gotten from Fast Track.
We’re very strong: Okocha, Kanu, Babangida, Oliseh, Finidi etc.
“Those ‘re the days when the names of the Super Eagles sprung to mind. We brought joy to the people of Nigeria.”
Speaking on Okocha, the former Newcastle man said: “The man is a monster. Do you remember the old Chelsea full-back, Albert Ferrer?
“For our (Nigeria) game at the World Cup, he was the right-back for Spain. There was a trick that Jay-Jay did on him, and I still don’t think Albert has recovered.”