JAPAN ’93 HEROES: KANU IS LAST MAN STANDING

Filed in Sports by on December 8, 2010

Japan ’93 heroes: Kanu is last man standing
By ’TANA AIYEJINA
Wednesday, 8 Dec 2010

Nwankwo Kanu, in action for Portsmouth. His long stay in English football has fetched him a kingly honour.

The recent resignation of Wilson Oruma from active football means Portsmouth‘s Nwankwo Kanu is the only member of the triumphant Japan ’93 World Cup Golden Eaglets still playing topflight football 17 years after winning the U-17 World Cup in Japan, writes ’TANA AIYEJINA

Emmanuel Okhoneboh

First choice goalkeeper at the tournament, Okhoneboh kept in five out of the six games of the tournament only being rested for the last group game against Australia. Not much has been heard of him after the tourney.

Emmanuel Babayaro

Emmanuel Babayaro, elder brother of Celestine, was second choice goalkeeper at the tourney. He played only one match against Australia. He was a member of the U-23 team that won gold at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. He started his career at Plateau United in 1993 before he moved to Besiktas of Tukey in 1996. But he quit football in 1998 due to injuries and went into the entertainment industry.

Last year, Emmanuel launched his rap career with two singles Naija Area and My Party. He worked as a TV analyst during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa before he released his debut album, Best of Both Worlds in September.

Karibe Ojigwe

Ojigwe who holds German citizenship played as a midfielder in Japan before joining Kaiserslautern in the Bundesliga from Enyimba. He went on to play for Koln, Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Monchengldbach and 1860 Munich before he retired in 2007. He won the Bundesliga title in 1998 with Kaiserslautern and then reached the UEFA Champions League final with Leverkusen only to lose to a Zinedine Zidane inspired Real Madrid in 2002. He found it difficult to tie down a regular role in the Super Eagles. He is a FIFA licence agent and resides in Germany.

Blessing Anyanwu

Last year Anyanwu was released by Lierse who were relegated to the third division but he returned to Belgium after trying his luck at Israeli side FC Ashdod but failed to secure a contract. The former Enyimba and Iwuanyanwu Nationale player played for lowly side VC Houvenne in Belgium last season before he called it quits with the game.

Peter Anosike

Anosike was second highest goal scorer at the competition with five goals. The former Julius berger of Lagos striker went on to play club football for clubs in Belgium, Australia and Singapore after leaving Nigeria. He‘s rumoured to be a security worker in Singapore after his career ended in 1999.

Eloka Asokuh

Not much has been heard of defender Asokuh, but he was last known to have played for Finn Harps in the League of Ireland in 2003. He also played for Udoji United, BCC Lions, Enugu Rangers and Gabros.

Ibrahim Babangida

Babangida, younger brother of former Super Eagles winger, Tijani Babangida, surprisingly quit the game in 2002 after showing promise earlier in his career. He retired before Tijani, who is three years older. He played for Katsina United, Stationery Stores of Lagos and Bank of the North before moving to Dutch club FC Volendam where he called it quits eight years ago.

Sambo Choji

Choji played for FC Saarbrucken and Eintracht Braunschweig in the German Bundesliga II between 1995 and 2003. He looked headed for the top after he scored 85 goals in 183 appearances for Saarbrucken but he soon faded afterwards. He tried out his luck at Persepolis of Iran before moving to Austria where he could not hold a place in SKN St. Polten and SV Reid, where he retired in 2007.

Nwankwo Kanu

Kanu scored five goals at the tourney to announce his arrival in world football. He was given a contract at Ajax from Iwuanyanwu Nationale in 1993. At a point, he was Africa‘s most decorated player before Cameroon‘s Samuel Eto‘o overtook him. After playing for other big sides like Inter Milan and Arsenal, the two-time African Footballer of the Year plays in the English second tier with Portsmouth.

Kanu won the UEFA Champions League with Ajax Amsterdam in 1995, UEFA Super Cup in 1995 and the Intercontinental Cup. Won the UEFA Cup with Inter Milan in 1998. He won the Premier League with Arsenal in 2002 and 2004. He won the FA Cup in 2002 and 2003. In 2008 he helped Portsmouth win the FA Cup. He was the African Player of the Year in 1996 and 1999.

Wilson Oruma

Oruma was the captain of team and was the highest goal scorer of the tournament. He was also in the victorious Atlanta ’96 squad. He played at the France ’98 World Cup, scoring one goal. Some felt he never quite fulfilled his potential. He played his club football mainly in France for Lens, Nancy, Nimes, Sochaux, Marseille and Guingamp. He also had spells in Turkey (Samsunspor) and Switzerland (Servette). He retired recently after a season at Greek side Kavala.

Celestine Babayaro

Aside from Kanu, Celestine Babayaro, is the most successful member of the squad, but despite being the youngest squad member he retired early – in 2008 at US Galaxy Stars. He won gold at Atlanta ’96. Earlier, he won the league and Super Cup double with Anderlecht of Belgium in 1995. At Chelsea he won the UEFA Cup, Winners Cup and the UEFA Super Cup in 1998. He also won the FA Cup in 2000. Individually, he was voted Belgian Young Footballer of the Year 1995 and 1996. He is the youngest player to play in the UEFA Champions League. He played at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups. He also played for Newcastle United.

Mobi Oparaku

Diminutive right-back, Oparaku, also went on to play for the Atlanta ’96 Olympics and France ’98 World Cup squads. He played for clubs in Belgium and then for the Connecticut Wolves in the United States but returned home to the domestic league before he quit in 2008.

Others

Manga Mohammed Festus Okougha, Abiodun Ogbebor and third choice keeper Destiny Iyonu all retired a long time ago while Festus Odini, who notched two goals at the tourney, is allegedly involved in automobile business. Charles Okonedo is also out of football.

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