Coming exactly 21 years and 9 months to the day when the Super Eagles of Nigeria had their feathers ripped off their skins in a crushing second round 4:1 decapitation from the legs of ranked outsiders Denmark in the France 1998 World Cup, legendary defender-turn-pastor Taribo West has now come out to sensationally allege that some of his then-team mates smuggled women into their hotel rooms (to do what is not so far from the imagination) just a day before the infamous match – as claimed by an online sports media outlet. Why now? I ask. Perhaps it coincides with FIFA TV YouTube channel shedding a spotlight on Nigeria by planning to air another Super Eagles World Cup second round encounter from April 10. Mercifully, it will be the more favourable Nigeria vs Italy match that they will be airing – another match that has been in the news recently no thanks to Jo Bonfrere’s astonishing claims that his former boss Clemens Westerhof sold the match! What nonsense! I know fact is stranger than fiction and I will be more than happy to eat my own words if true but for now, I think the ageing Dutchman’s comments belong in the dustbin. As corona virus grips the global community shutting down all major sporting activities including football, there seem to be no shortage of extraordinary claims to keep interest alive whilst we wait for the real business of football to resume (and resume it will sooner rather than later by the grace of God!).
It is interesting though for Taribo to link the loss to Denmark to sex but I actually think there was more to it than that. Structurally, the team was poor and very lucky indeed to have amassed the bumper 6 points that they did in the groups stages. After fasting and prayers of millions of Nigerians helped them see off Spain, an ageing and declining Bulgaria was easy meat. The 3:1 pounding by Paraguay was just a precursor of what was to come with the expected 4:1 humiliation of Denmark only going to confirm to me that that team was ill-equipped, ill-prepared, poorly motivated, badly drilled and structurally deficient to mount any meaningful campaign. The late Uche Okafor (a defender after my very heart – may his soul continue to rest in peace) was quoted as implying that the atmosphere around the team was knot affable. He implied arrogant behaviours and that he was only too happy when it was all over (after the 4:1 defeat). So, whilst sex-the-night-before may have played a part, there were several other factors sank the Super Eagles-titanic in France 98. Many of these factors played out long before the tournament even started. Sadly, many years after, I don’t think the lessons have been learnt! But for me as a fan, I continue to have sex with the Super Eagles whilst waiting eagerly for the climax.