Former Nigeria international Taribo West said the Super Eagles squad to the 1998 World Cup which he was a part of was good enough to win the tournament.
The Eagles made their second appearance at the France 1998 World Cup after making their debut four years earlier in the United States.
After a slow start in the 1998 World Cup qualifiers, the Eagles qualified with a game to spare.
Despite recording poor results in their build up games to the tournament, where they lost 1-0 to Germany, 3-0 to the former Yugoslavia and 5-1 to the Netherlands, the Eagles shocked one of the tournament favourites Spain 3-2, in their group opener.
They secured qualification to the round of 16 with a 1-0 win against Bulgaria before losing 3-1 to Paraguay in an inconsequential last group game.
The Eagles’ campaign came to an end as they were thrashed 4-1 by Denmark in the first knock out round.
And recalling what transpired at the tournament West, who only a few days ago revealed that some of his teammates slept with women before the game against Denmark, made mention of factors which stopped the team from becoming world champions for the first time.
“That team had the best generation of players that would have won the World Cup for Africa for the first time,” West said on Ifeanyi Udeze’s Diary on Brila FM.
“We had a team, we went through a lot of turbulent times the turbulence was too much because we qualified and the people that qualified us were sacked, somebody like Philippe Troussier. Then they went and brought Bora (Milutinovic) who didn’t prepare us before the World Cup.
“He just saw that he had bunch of stars and when they (Eagles players) arrive camp they will hit the World Cup which was not so.
“We had enough time after the holiday, that is after the season ended. Everybody went to their various homes to go and enjoy themselves.
“So when we came back to camp we needed somebody to stretch us, we didn’t have that so there was no fitness in the team.”
West went on to feature for the Eagles at the AFCON 2000 co-hosted by Ghana and Nigeria where Nigeria lost to Cameroon on penalties.
Also he made the squad to the Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup with the Eagles crashing out in the group stage.
He was part of the U-23 Eagles side under Johannes Bonfrere that won gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics games.
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