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banner Thursday, 17 January, 2002, 18:15 GMT
Ikpeba's nightmare
Victor Ikpeba fails with his penalty at the 2000 final
By BBC Sport Online's Eniwoke Ibagere in Bamako.

Victor Ikpeba's memories of the 2000 African Cup of Nations are not happy ones.

He was at the centre of the penalty shoot-out drama in the final against Cameroon, which Nigeria lost.

Ikpeba struck his spot-kick hard and clean, but the ball hit the bar, bounced down to the ground and out of the goal.

I've experience life and I see things differently to how I used to see them
Victor Ikpeba
His body language said it all - he held his head in his hands thinking the ball had not gone in.

The referee saw it the same way, although television replays afterwards showed the ball had clearly crossed the line before bouncing back out.

Talking to BBC Sport Online in Bamako, he confessed that the incident still plays on his mind.

Personal tragedy

"It's something that lives in my memory and will be with me all my life".

But Ikpeba believes he can make the experience work to his advantage.

"It's part of football. It was human error, and I think being here may not be quite revenge, but we are here to prove something".

The disallowed goal began a tragic period for Ikpeba which has tested his spirit and resolve.

Later in the same year his wife died of cancer, leaving him with sole responsibility of bringing up his two daughters.

Looking for a change he moved from his German club Borussia Dortmund to Spanish side Real Betis but has struggled there.

He also needed an operation to remove his appendix.

His last Super Eagles' match was on 13 January, 2001.

"I have had some difficult times," he said.

He added that events have changed him from the "impatient man" he used to be.

"I've experienced life and I see things differently to how I used to see them. I am more calm and more patient now".

He said he was surprised but happy to be recalled to the Super Eagles.

See also:

17 Jan 02 |  Cup of Nations
NFA comes clean on Oruma
16 Jan 02 |  Cup of Nations
Kanu to miss Super Eagles' opener
14 Jan 02 |  Cup of Nations
Nigeria keeping faith
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