By Albert Akota
The Nigeria Football Federation (NNF) has appointed former Super Eagles’ captains Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu, as well as former star winger Tijani Babangida as scouts and movitational figures for Nigeria’s campaign at the 32nd Africa Cup of Nations taking place in Egypt this summer.
According to NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, the three legends will monitor the activities of the Super Eagles’ opponents leading to the finals in Egypt and report to Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr, and will continue their assignment in Egypt during the championship.
“Okocha, Kanu and Babangida served Nigeria meritoriously as players and we believe they have the capacity to excel in this particular assignment. They will also serve as role models for our young team in Egypt,” Dr Sanusi said.
Okocha was a key member of the much –fancied Golden Generation, which qualified Nigeria for her first FIFA World Cup finals, won the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time on away soil and impressed in reaching the Round of 16 at Nigeria’s debut in the World Cup in 1994. The team was named the second most entertaining team of the finals behind champions Brazil.
The flamboyant midfielder also captained the Super Eagles to the 2002 FIFA World Cup and the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations, where he was named Player of the Tournament. He played in three FIFA World Cup finals for Nigeria.
Kanu narrowly missed the cut for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, but captained the Nigeria U23 team to win Africa’s first Olympic football gold in Atlanta, USA in 1996 and was a member of the squad that finished as runners-up in the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations. He also played in three FIFA World Cup finals for Nigeria.
Babangida was Nigeria’s alternate player at the 1994 FIFA World Cup, but featured at the 1998 finals in France where he scored Nigeria’s only goal in the Round of 16 defeat to Denmark. He was also a member of the squad that finished as runners-up in the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations, and is currently President of the National Association of Nigeria Professional Footballers (NANPF) – the globally–recognized body of Nigerian players.