Former international and assistant coach Sylvanus Okpala has said the Super Eagles ought to have won the 1994 World Cup but for mentality problems.
The Super Eagles were flying all the way to the quarterfinal of the 1994 World Cup in the USA, before Italy fought back to eliminate them.
“The 1994 World Cup belonged to Nigeria but it was a mentality thing that denied us,” Okpala said on a radio interview monitored by SCORENigeria
“All the teams did not want to meet Nigeria at the World Cup.
“And Italy went all the way to reach the final against Brazil.”
Okpala, who played professionally for many years in Portugal, was first assistant coach when Nigeria last won the AFCON 10 years ago in South Africa.
‘Quick Silver’ said the target for the Super Eagles now is not only to qualify for the 2026 World Cup but get as far as the semifinals of the tournament to match the achievement of Morocco last year.
“It is now not just for us to go to the World Cup, but for us to at least match what Morocco did last year when they reached the semifinal,” he urged.
Okpala said that besides records, progress by the Eagles at the global football showpiece will also win much-needed cash that will be used for football development in Nigeria.
He said Nigeria will be expected to win their first two World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho on Thursday and Zimbabwe on November 19, but warned both teams cannot be taken lightly.
“Lesotho will come to Nigeria to win and if we underrate them, they will surprise us,” he cautioned.
“They will bring in their best and so we hope we win to start on a good note.
“We need to win the two matches to get the confidence to do more.”