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banner Saturday, 12 February, 2000, 21:29 GMT
Nigeria: Player penpix

kanu Nwankwo Kanu has played a key role for Nigeria


BBC News Online profiles Nigeria's key personnel in Sunday's African Cup of Nations final against Cameroon.

Coach: Dutchman Jo Bonfrere:
The proverbial "cat with nine lives" in his relationship with Nigeria. Back in charge after parting company with the Nigerians over non payment of his bonuses and allowances after training their under-23 side to win gold at the 1996 Olympic Games. In his first major assignment as the coach in 1995, he won the Afro-Asian Cup Tournamen, with a 4-2 goals aggregate over Uzbekkistan. A disciplinarian with shrewd game tactics, Bonfrere has in his squad majority of the players that achieved the Olympic glory.

1-Ike Shoronmu (Besiktas, Turkey), 32.
Goalkeeper. A broken wrist deprived Shoronmu of being Nigeria's first choice goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup finals in France and he has proved at this tournament how badly he was missed. Moved to Turkey from FC Zurich in Switzerland last season.

3-Celestine Babayaro (Chelsea, England), 21.
Defender. Strong and fast left-sided full back, whose emergence into the team has also solved one of Nigeria's perennial positional weak points. Will return to England after the tournament to play in Chelsea's challenge for premier league title and the Champions League.

6-Taribo West (AC Milan, Italy), 25.
Defender. A lack of pace has caught him out at the Nations Cup finals a few times but he makes up for it with effective tackling. A flamboyant hairstyle, in the Nigerian national colours, has also made him a big crowd favourite.

21-Godwin Okpara (Paris St Germain, France), 27.
Defender. Was left out of the starting line-up at the beginning of the tournament but worked his way back into the team. Had a handful of caps before the 1998 World Cup finals but has been a regular for the Super Eagles ever since.

15-Sunday Oliseh (Juventus, Italy), 25.
Midfielder. Captain of the side who has overcome a bout of malaria during the tournament to take his place in the side. This will be his second final after playing for Nigeria's winning team against Zambia in Tunisia in 1994.

7-Finidi George (Real Betis, Spain), 28.
Midfielder. Has given another outstanding performance for Nigeria at this tournament, having won a gold medal in 1994 and bronze in Senegal in 1992. Scored arguably the goal of the tournament with a long-range drive against Morocco in the first round.

8-Mutiu Adepoju (Real Sociedad, Spain), 29.
Midfielder. Stand-in captain in the absence of Oliseh and another survivor from the 1994 winning team. Good midfield link-man who is Nigeria's longest-serving international.

10-Austin Okocha (Paris St Germain, France), 26.
Midfielder. Mercurial midfielder famous for his silky skills. Returns to the team after being suspended for the 2-0 semi-final win over South Africa in Lagos after being sent off in the quarter-final against Senegal.

13-Tijani Babangida (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands), 26.
Winger. Two brilliant goals against South Africa booked Nigeria's place in the final. Has been put on the transfer list at his Dutch club, but is likely to have many takers after his form at this Nations Cup tournament.

4-Nwankwo Kanu (Arsenal, England), 23.
Striker. Twice won Africa's Footballer of the Year award, first in 1996 when he captained the Atlanta Olympics gold-medal winning team and then again last December. Has yet to score at the Nations Cup finals but has been an integral part of the Nigerian march toward the final.

17-Julius Aghahowa (Esperance, Tunisia), 18.
Striker. Could get a place in the starting line-up after emerging as the new star of African football. Scored three goals in two games as a late substitute, including two dramatic efforts to rescue his side from imminent defeat against Senegal in the quarter-final. Famous for throwing multiple flicks of sommersaults to celebrate after scoring a goal.

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See also:
12 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Cameroon: Player penpix
11 Feb 00 |  Cup Features
In pictures: Nigeria's semi success
Links to other Cup News stories are at the foot of the page.