Former Nigeria defender Taribo West won a silver and bronze at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2000 and 2002 respectively. Now a pastor, Taribo tells ’TANA AIYEJINA about his experiences in Africa’s highest football showpiece
How would you rate the 2000 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations?
It was a fulfilling tournament for me. We did very well but we could
not win it. It was the first I would play in the competition, so I
eagerly looked forward to it. Happily it was co-hosted by Nigeria and
Ghana. We had home support throughout till the final.
A major highlight of the 2000 Nations Cup was the Super Eagles
controversial defeat to Cameroon in the final after Victor Ikpeba’s
penalty was adjudged not to have crossed the line by the referee.
Yes, it was a truly controversial final match. The penalty went in
but the referee didn’t see it clearly and that gave the Cameroonians the
advantage to win the game.
The quarter-final game against Senegal was probably the
toughest for the Eagles. What was going through your mind when it looked
like the Eagles were going to crash out at that stage with the Teranga
Lions leading 1-0 late in the game?
It was very tough and everyone thought it was over before (Julius)
Aghahowa was introduced. He changed the game and scored the two goals
that gave us the victory. It was a very tight game but the substitution
brought us the right result.
Do you believe that Kashimawo Laloko was instrumental to the
victory after he removed what he alleged to be charms near the Senegal
There is a lot of superstition in African football. People believe it
works for them and they use it. I know things of that nature but I
don’t believe in it.
After reaching the final in 2000, there were great expectations
of winning the title in 2002 in Mali but the team ended in third place.
In Mali, there was a division between the sports ministry led by Mark
Aku, then the minister, and the team. People gave him a wrong report
about the team but we were doing well. A day to the semi-final match
against Senegal, they came and said people were breaking camp rules and
they started slashing our allowances. If your flight ticket was $2,000,
they gave you $1,000. They halved whatever allowances that were due to
the players. I caught flu and couldn’t train and (Sunday) Oliseh spoke
to the minister. The man was angry and he said Oliseh had no respect;
that how could he speak to him in that way? It sparked a row and it
affected us in the game against the Senegalese, which we lost. It
affected us at the World Cup because after the competition, the coach
(Amodu Shuaibu) was sacked and new players were brought into the team.
Some of the team’s old players who were dropped after the
Nations Cup felt you had betrayed them after you went ahead and played
at the Korea-Japan 2002 World Cup.