Former Super Eagles goalkeeper, Ndubuisi Egbo, has revealed that Nwankwo Kanu never wanted to take a penalty in the final of the African Cup of Nations in 2000, The PUNCH reports.
The Eagles lost 4-3 on penalties to Cameroon after full and extra time ended 2-2.
During the shootout, Kanu’s penalty, Nigeria’s third, was saved by Boukar Alioum, the Cameroon goalkeeper.
Speaking on his time with the Eagles in an interview with PUNCH Online TV sports programme, Kick and Follow, the former KF Tirana manager said the Eagles were exhausted before the shootout against the Cameroonians.
Nigeria recovered from two goals down to force the game into extra-time. Samuel Eto’o scored in the 27th minute, before Patrick Mboma’s shot squirmed past Ike Shorunmu’s legs for Cameroon’s second goal in the final.
But just before half-time, Chukwu Ndukwe reduced the deficit with a cool finish from close range, before Austin Okocha restored parity with a stunning 25-yard volley to make it 2-2 within 90 seconds of the restart.
“I have the memory of what happened in the final against Cameroon like a video in my head. I remember Victor Ikpeba scored the penalty but put his hands on his head and the referee (Mourad Daami) counted it that it was a lost goal,” Egbo said.
“But before then, when we were in the camp during training sessions, I always saved Kanu’s penalties and when it was time to play penalties and (coach) Jo Bonefere was writing the names of penalty takers, Kanu said he was not going to play, but the coach said he was one of the best and he had to play.
“He (Kanu) came to me and said I know that I always saved his penalties. I tried to motivate him and told him to try and kick the ball very hard to the side. ‘Just remove the thought that you lose penalties during training sessions.’ This is because it may affect his psychology and that he may lose.
“Also we were not prepared for a penalty shootout because we came from a two-goal down to play 2-2 and we had exhausted a lot of energy and strength and the psychology was not well balanced for s penalty shootout; and in the end we lost.”
Egbo made Africa proud when he guided Tirana to win the Albanian league in the 2019/20 season and also qualified them to the Champions League, becoming the first African coach to achieve the feat in Europe.
The 47-year-old is currently without a job after he was sacked by Tirana at the start of the season.