Japan 1993: Golden Eaglets flying high
In an all-African showdown in Asia, Nigeria overcame Ghana in the Final to take the laurels at Japan '93. The Golden Eaglets stood out from start to finish, their outstanding physique, impeccable sense of organisation and progressive tactics combining to make them the most feared team in the tournament. Having future stars of the calibre of Wilson Oruma (top scorer in the competition), Nwankwo Kanu, Peter Anosike, Ibrahim Babangida and Celestine Babayaro at their disposal certainly helped too. Nigeria's 8-0 thrashing of poor Canada at the start of the proceedings set the tone; South American giants Argentina hardly fared much better, going down 4-0, and then it was the turn of Australia (2-0), Japan (2-1) and Poland (2-1) to suffer at the hands of the all-conquering Nigerians. Ghana were the last hurdle, and a 2-1 win in the Final was enough to send the Golden Eaglets flying home with the coveted trophy safely in their grasp.
This tournament belonged to Africa, as two teams from the same continent faced each other in the Final for the first time in FIFA history. The difference between the two African giants was Nigeria's extra ruthlessness in front of goal. One of the most heart-warming moments in FIFA history came at the medal ceremony, as the two sides climbed the podium together to applaud the fans. Unforgettable...
Chile came from nowhere to clinch third place, showing admirable faith in the 4-4-2 formation devised for them by coach Leonardo Véliz. Frank Lobos, Hector Tapia, Manuel Neira and Sebastian Rozental all shone as they took second spot in Group D, before rolling over the Czech and Slovak Republic in the quarters. Ghana proved a step too far, but the penalty shoot-out victory over European Champions Poland in the third place play-off was far more than Chile could have hoped for at the outset.
Player of the Tournament:
For once, the adidas Golden Ball did not go to a member of the winning side. Ghana's Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Daniel Addo was the young recipient, his natural athleticism and buckets of speed helping him to excel. And his visible enjoyment at getting in on the scoring act must have swayed the judges too. His three goals were invaluable to his team's progress, as was the support of team-mates Sebastian Barnes and Michael Edusei, who made the Team of the Tournament alongside him.
Leonardo Biagini (ARG), Sebastián Rozental (CHI), Daniel Addo (GHA), Gianluigi Buffon (ITA), Francesco Coco (ITA), Francesco Totti (ITA), Hidetoshi Nakata (JPN), Celestine Babayaro (NGA), Nwankwo Kanu (NGA), Wilson Oruma (NGA), Ibrahim Babangida (NGA), John O?Brien (USA).
Japan 1993 stats:
107 (3.34 per match)
Nigeria, 20 goals
Top 3 goalscorers:
- Wilson Oruma (NGA), 6 goals
- Nwankwo Kanu (NGA), 5 goals
- Manuel Neira (CHI), 5 goals
Tokyo, Kobe, Kyoto, Nagoya, Gifu, Hiroshima.