The Super Eagles will on Friday and June 1 play friendlies against a Corsica XI and the Togo national team in Paris, France in Nigeria’s build-up to the June 10 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa in Uyo, Completesportsnigeria.com’s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI recalls the previous six matches the Nigerian national team have played in France and how they fared in them…
1. Spain vs Nigeria (June 13, 1998)
The Super Eagles played their first World Cup of France 98 on July 13, 1998 against Spain at the La Beaujoire Stadium in Nantes. The Group D match ended 3-2 in Nigeria’s favour.
Fernando Hierro put the Spaniards ahead in the 21st minute but Nigeria equalised just three minutes later through ‘headmaster’ Mutiu Adepoju.
The Eagles two minutes into the second half went behind again, when legendary Spanish striker Raul Gonzalez scored to make it 2-1.
Spanish goalkeeper Andoni Zubizaretta inadvertently palmed the ball into his net with 17 minutes left on the clock after Garba Lawal’s low shot at the near post put him under pressure. The keeper’s howler restored parity for
Nigeria and it became 2-2.
Midfielder Sunday Oliseh scored arguably one of the best goals of the FIFA World Cup with a screamer in the 78th minute which won the game for Nigeria.
2. Nigeria vs Bulgaria (June 19, 1998)
Nigeria’s next Group D match of France 98 World Cup was on June 19 against Bulgaria which the west Africans won 1-0 thanks to a 28th minute goal by Victor Ikpeba.
The ‘Prince of Monaco’ scored in the 28th minute against the Europeans who Nigeria defeated four years earlier at USA ’94.
It was a feisty encounter that saw four Super Eagles stars Austin Okocha, Uche Okechukwu, Mutiu Adepoju and Victor Ikpeba getting booked while Ilian Iliev and Radostin Kishishev got on Chilean referee Sanchez Yanten Mario’s books
with yellows too.
3. Nigeria vs Paraguay (June 24, 1998)
Nigeria played their third match of the France 98 World Cup against South Americans Paraguay.The Super Eagles lost
3-1 at the Stade Municipal in Toulouse.
Former youth international and captain of Japan ’93 FIFA U-17 World Cup-winning side, Wilson Oruma, restored parity for Nigeria in the 11th minute after Celso Ayala had scored a first minute opener.
Miguel Benitez and Jose Cardozo then put the contest beyond Nigeria with two second half strikes in the 58th and 86th minutes of the game.
Despite the defeat Nigeria still qualified for the Round of 16 of the World Cup finishing Group D with six points, with a goal difference of 0 having scored five goals and conceded five. They were joined in the knock out stages by
Paraguay. European heavyweights Spain were eliminated alongside Bulgaria.
4. Nigeria vs Denmark (June 28, 1998)
It was Nigeria versus Denmark in the Round of 16 of the 1998 World Cup. The Danes were runners-up in Group C behind France with five points in the table.
The Super Eagles went two goals down in the first half, Peter Koller and Brian Laudrup getting their team ahead in the third and 12th minutes of the match.
Ebbe Sand came off the bench and scored a brilliant goal to extend the score to 3-0.
Thomas Helveg put the game beyond Nigeria with fourteen minutes left. Tijani Babangida got one for Nigeria a minute later but it proved too little for coach Bora Milutinovic and his Nigerian players.
The World Cup in France was over for Nigeria with only the individual brilliance of Austin ‘Jay jay’ Okocha being arguably the highlights of the Eagles’ participation.
5. Nigeria vs France (June 2, 1999)
Nigeria played an international friendly against France in Saint Etienne in June 2, 2009.
The Eagles won 1-0 thanks to a Joseph Akpala goal in the 32nd minute. The Eagles were coached by late Amodu Shuaibu.
Nigeria’s starting eleven in the friendly against the French included Vincent Enyeama, the now late Olub.ayo Adefemi, Dele Adeleye, Elderson Echiejile and Sam Sodje. Seyi Olofinjana, Kalu Uche, Joseph Akpala, Nwankwo Kanu, Osaze
Odemwingie and Ikechukwu Uche also started. The quintet of Yusuf Ayila, Obinna Nwaneri, Dickson Etuhu, Obinna Nsofor
and Michael Eneramo were the substitutes that played.
Former world champions France missed the presence of an injured Thierry Henry but still paraded a strong side nonetheless that included Patrick Viera, Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema, Nicolas Anelka and co.
6. Nigeria vs Mali (May 27, 2016)
An emerging Super Eagles side defeated Mali 1-0 in an international friendly on May 27, 2016 at Stade Robert Diochon in Rouen, France.
Manchester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho scored in the 77th minute after coming on from the bench in place of Arsenal youngster Alex Iwobi.
Many first team regulars were missing for the Nigerians who four days later travelled to Luxembourg for another friendly which they won 3-1.