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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
Wizard Okocha casts his spell
Okocha (r) in the final of the 2000 Nations Cup
Okocha (r) in the final of the 2000 Nations Cup
There's always a sense of anticipation among Nigeria fans whenever Austin "Jay-Jay" Okocha touches the ball.

The sublime skills of the Paris St Germain midfielder have drawn favourable comparisons with the very best of South American football.

He is the man whom his fellow countrymen believe can really deliver African success at the World Cup finals this summer.

A veteran of the past two tournaments in the United States and France, the television cameras loved to dwell on his spectacular moves.

Okocha was the most expensive African footballer
Okocha was the most expensive African footballer

Okocha has it all, from his exquisite back heels and dummies to stylish passing.

Few would deny he is the most gifted player Nigeria has seen for many years.

At 17, he landed in Germany from Enugu Rangers to play for Neunkirchen, but his skills did all the talking and he quickly moved to first division Eintracht Frankfurt.

After several years with Frankfurt, Okocha moved to Turkish side Fenerbahce for two successful, goal-filled years.

His switch from Turkey to Paris Saint Germain for 14m after the last World Cup was then the most expensive transfer for a Nigerian.

The 28-year-old is sometimes criticised by his coaches for being too ambitious with his dribbling and is sometimes accused of playing to entertain the fans.

But that is the essence of "Jay-Jay" Okocha, who will doubtless shine again in South Korea and Japan.

Change him at your peril.

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GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1

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