Hero Spirit of 94: Nigeria Defenders

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  1. Phil Cole/ALLSPORT

    #1 Augustine Eguavoen

    The central defender made a total of 49 appearances for Nigeria over 11 years, with three coming at the showpiece in 1994. However, it seemed to go downhill for Austin after the 3-0 win over Bulgaria - the Super Eagles’ first ever game at the competition - he never featured in another victory for the West Africans at the competition. He went on to manage the national team across two spells [2005-2007 and a brief spell in 2010].

     

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    #2 Ben Iroha

    One of the younger players of Clemens Westerhof’s ‘94 side, the 23-year old failed to make an appearance at the tournament. Nevertheless, the left-back went on to make half-a-century of appearances spanning eight years, with playing spells in Holland, the United States, Spain and England.

     

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    #3 Stephen Keshi

    The late Keshi captained the side in the 2-0 win over Greece – his sole appearance at the competition – before the Super Eagles exited in the Round of 16 to Italy. The central defender was one of the first Nigerians to move to Europe when he signed for Lokeren in 1986. He then went on to lead the national side to their third Africa Cup of Nations success in 2013.
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    #4 Uche Okechukwu

    Having been one of the few to feature in every game in the showpiece before Nigeria’s exit, the towering centre-back went on to make 47 appearances for the national team, scoring three goals. His career saw him play for Danish side Brondby, and Turkish sides Fenerbahce and Istanbulspor.
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    #6 Chidi Nwanu

    Another who was ever-present in the competition, Nwanu went on to feature 20 times for the Super Eagles. After a couple of uneventful spells in Belgium’s lower leagues, he had a brief spell with Anderlecht, winning two league titles, albeit after featuring sparingly.
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    #7 Emeka Ezeugo

    The journeyman Ezeugo was a midfielder capable of filling in defence. He made 11 appearances for the Super Eagles and was part of the side that made history against Bulgaria, although he didn’t get another run out after that historic victory. He featured for several clubs across the world with spells in Malaysia, Denmark, Spain, Hungary, India, Peru and the USA before successfully making the transition into coaching.
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    #8 Michael Emenalo

    The unlucky Emenalo missed Nigeria’s opening win in ‘94 because of injury before going on to make three appearances. He found himself on the winning side only once. Emenalo had undistinguished spells in Germany, England and Israel but has enjoyed prominent non-playing roles at Chelsea and more recently Monaco, both as Technical Director.
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    #9 Uche Okafor

    The late Okafor perhaps had a more wretched time than Emenalo. Having played every match in the Super Eagles’ Afcon win, he sustained an ankle injury shortly after which probably led to his non-appearance in the showpiece even though he was part of the squad. Okafor had delved into coaching and punditry before his passing.