Football World Cup: Nigerians head for home in disarray

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The Independent Online
NIGERIAN WORLD Cup players and officials accused each other of incompetence and greed yesterday after Africa's last representative crashed out of the tournament with Sunday's 4-1 thrashing by Denmark.

Sani Toro, the secretary of the Nigerian Football Association, branded the team a "bunch of money-mongers" and accused players of holding officials to ransom before the second-round defeat.

Toro claimed the players had written to the NFA before the match demanding $10,000 (pounds 6,025) before they would play. "They called it an `incentive fee'." he said. "We had no choice but to pay them. The Nigerian government gave us all we wanted for the World Cup and the NFA ensured the team had a good coach, nice camping facilities in Switzerland and we paid all bonuses to the players in good time. It's a shame they can accuse us of poor organisation."

The goalkeeper Peter Rufai, a veteran blamed by some for giving away goals to the Danes, had attempted to turn the heat back on officials. "It was a game we lost from the beginning," he said. "We lacked concentration because of a couple of problems based on poor organisation by the Nigerian Football Association. The NFA never bothered to look after the players and when this happens you get this kind of result."

The Monaco striker Victor Ikpeba blamed the coach, Bora Milutinovic. "He didn't make the right changes," Ikpeba said. "He should have brought on some substitutes after 15 minutes. We lost with bad tactics."

Brazil's captain, Dunga, will retire from international football at the end of the World Cup. He said yesterday that he had realised that, at the age of 34, it was time to call it a day. "Nobody likes to leave. If it were possible I would like to continue doing this for eternity," said Dunga, who is playing in his third World Cup and lifted the trophy as captain in 1994.

Steve Sampson, of the United States, yesterday became the fifth coach to part company with his team in the wake of World Cup failure. Sampson, 41, had been in charge of the American squad since August 1995, and in 62 matches under his control they won 26, drew 14 and lost 22. His team lost all three first-round matches in France.

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