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‘I played against Senegal despite having malaria’ – Oliseh recounts ‘sad’ 2000 AFCON final

‘I played against Senegal despite having malaria’ – Oliseh recounts ‘sad’ 2000 AFCON final
September 16
12:14 2020

Sunday Oliseh, former Super Eagles captain and coach, says despite being sick with malaria, the love for his country made him come off the bench at the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to ensure the team was not dumped out of the tournament.

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In the quarter-final of the tournament Nigeria co-hosted with Ghana, the Eagles came from a goal down to beat Senegal 2-1 after extra-time, thanks to a brace from Julius Aghahowa.

But in a chat with CAFOnline, the 46-year-old, who was part of the squad that won the 1994 AFCON, said losing to Cameroon in the final on penalties was a sad experience for him.

“I have mixed feelings about the 2000 AFCON because as the host nation, we did our best to get through to the final but it was very sad the way we lost it,” he said.

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“We not only lost the trophy but it was as if something had been taken away from us. We felt sad because it could have been a wonderful gift to the fans on home soil especially since we had invested so much in the tournament.”

Oliseh, who captained the Nigerian team at the tournament, said it was more painful because he had given his all to ensure the Eagles triumphed at home — to the extent that he played despite having malaria.

“Nothing but the love for my country made me come off the bench against Senegal. I had malaria and was dehydrated at the same time too and I was not even supposed to be on the bench,” he said.

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“But Coach Jo Bonfrere insisted I should be on the bench because my presence ‘would boost the team’s spirit’.

“We were losing some minutes to the end of the match when I was introduced. It was a risk but it was never going to be an option for Nigeria to go out of the competition at that stage.”

Oliseh earned 54 international caps with the Super Eagles in a career spanning almost a decade.

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