Former Nigeria international Moses Kpakor has revealed why the Super Eagles suffered a heavy defeat against hostsAlgeria, in the opening game of the 1990 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Eagles, parading mostly home-based players, were hammered 5-1 by Algeria in their group opener.
In the Eagles’ line-up were Alloy Agu, Uche Okechukwu, the late Rashidi Yekini, Ademola Adeshina, Daniel Amokachi, Kpakor and Andrew Uwe.
Other players in the starting eleven were Ayo Ogunlana, Tajudeen Oyekanmi, the late Thompson Oliha and Aminu Abdul. Coming on as substitutes were Emmanuel Okocha (elder brother to Jay Jay Okocha) and Baldwin Bazuaye.
Algeria opened scoring in the 36th minute through Rabah Madjer who also made it 2-0 on 58 minutes.
Rabah Madjer and Isaac Semitoje
Djamel Menad got the third and fourth goals in the 69th and 72nd minutes.
Okocha scored in the 82nd minute before Djamel Amani added the fifth with two minutes left in the game.
And ahead of the Eagles’ friendly against Algeria in Austria on Friday, Kpakor, in an exclusive chat with Completesports.com, explained how they recovered from the opening day defeat and went all the way to the final.
“The atmosphere was intimidating, the crowd were singing and dancing but we were not intimidated because most of us play in club continental games and were used to such crowd. But what led to the heavy defeat was due to poor tactics not from the coaching crew but from us the players,” Kpakor said.
“When Algeria scored the first goal, instead of us to maintain our strategy and wait for our opportunity we decided to go the Nigerian way by going all out attack.
Algerian players with the 1990 AFCON trophy
“We all went out to go and equalise and opened a lot of spaces at the back which they capitalised on because they have players who can run very fast.
“They exploited our open defence and when they countered on four, five occasions I was the only player at the back and then Alloy Agu. And Alloy made a lot of saves because it could have been eight, nine goals.
“And when the goals started pouring in that was when we started hearing the noises from the crowd which made us to be down and dejected. We still tried to do our best and got one goal by Emmanuel Okocha.
“Ahead of the second game against Egypt, (Clemens) Westerhof now told us why we lost to Algeria. He said we should stick to the plan and wait for our chances. And early in the game against Egypt, (Rashidi) Yekini scored and that was the end. And in the game against Cote d’Ivoire Yekini scored again and also in the semi-final against Zambia and on to the final.”
The 1990 CAF Cup Winners’ Cup winner with BCC of Gboko, told Completesports.com the Eagles were confident of beating Algeria in the final but were denied due to poor officiating.
He added:”Going into the final we were very confident we will beat Algeria but I think history was just not on our side.
“The referee denied us two clear penalties and it was not a case of whether he was intimidated by the crowd because the way they built the stadium, the fans were too far from the turf. But the referee didn’t just feel like giving Nigeria a chance.”
And comparing the Algerian team he faced during his playing career and the current crop, Kpakor said:”The Algerian teams between 80s and 90s, the Rabah Madjer era beginning from 1981, I think it was their greatest team.
“They qualified for back-to-back World Cups (1982 and 1986) and I remember they beat Germany at the 1982 World Cup. So I think that team was their greatest.”
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By James Agberebi