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NFF, Eguavoen must carry World Cup blame, slams Super Eagles for selfies – Ikpeba

6:10 pm AEST 12/4/22
Nigerian players reacts in disappointment after defeat, Leon Balogun.
The 48-year-old blasts Nigeria for taking selfies before their decisive qualifier against the Black Stars in Abuja

Former Nigeria international Victor Ikpeba has called on Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), as well as interim coach Augustine Eguavoen and players to shoulder the blame for failing to reach the 2022 World Cup finals.

The Super Eagles missed out on the tournament on the away goals rule after managing a 0-0 draw against Ghana in Kumasi before battling to a 1-1 result in Abuja.

According to 48-year-old Ikpeba, who managed 31 caps for Nigeria and scored seven goals, Super Eagles players should be held accountable because they did not take the two-legged qualifier with seriousness.

“Let me give you a statistic. We were involved in 1994, 1998, 2002; we were not involved in 2006. We were back in 2010, 2014, and 2018, so every fourth edition we are involved in the World Cup we don’t qualify but we should have been there,” the former African Footballer of the Year said on SuperSport's Monday Night Football as quoted by allnigeriasoccer.com.

“I said the NFF have to take responsibility, it was a failure from the NFF, from the manager, the coaches but more especially the players. Just before the game, you see these players came into the pitch to take selfies, I have never seen that in my life before.

“It’s not about jet age, they should know the magnitude of the game, we didn’t even see the pictures of the selfies after the match. Why didn't they show us?”

Apart from Ikpeba criticising the players, Eguavoen had in a previous interview blamed them for lacking the character to beat Ghana in the return leg insisting it was the main reason they missed out on qualification.

“We lacked the character, zeal to beat Ghana when it mattered most,” Eguavoen said. “The Ghanaians showed they wanted it more than our boys and that was why it ended that way.

“We didn’t do any of that. We did not fight or push enough for the winner and how do you do that? It is with fast-paced football, creating chances but that didn’t happen. In Kumasi, the Ghanaians were better but in Abuja, the Eagles were the better side but could not win.”

Meanwhile, Ikpeba has refused to be drawn on his recent spat with Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen.

Ikpeba and the Napoli star dominated news headlines last week with the former criticising the latter for his poor show against the Black Stars, a comment that forced Osimhen to hit back on social media.

When asked about Osimhen’s response, Ikpeba laughed off the incident by saying: “He’s a young lad, I still love him. Victors are all like that.”

Ikpeba was a member of the Super Eagles team at Fifa World Cups in 1994 and 1998, scoring against Bulgaria in the latter tournament in France.

He also helped Nigeria to win the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and the Olympic football gold medal in 1996.