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France ’98: Oliseh, Hierro renew W’Cup rivalry

Twenty-four years after they last crossed path at the 1998 World Cup in France, when Nigeria defeated Spain, former captains Sunday Oliseh and Fernando Hierro met at the Al Thumama Stadium in Qatar at the ongoing Mundial, with the encounter between the two their talking points, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

One of Nigeria’s most celebrated victories at the World Cup, the Super Eagles completed a shock 3-2 comeback win over Spain in their opening game of the tournament inside the Stade de la Beaujoire – Louis Fonteneau in France.

Hierro gave the Spaniards the lead in the 21st minute, expertly guiding a fine free-kick past Peter Rufai in the Nigerian goal.

The Eagles struck back within three minutes, midfielder Mutiu Adepoju heading home the equaliser from an inch-perfect corner-kick.

Shortly after the break, Raul Gonzalez restored La Roja’s lead to make it 2-1, but luck was on the Eagles side as Garba Lawal got Nigeria back on level terms in a bizarre manner as Spain’s goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta redirected a seemingly harmless cross into his own net to make it 2-2.

The three-time African champions then took the lead for the first time in the game through Oliseh, who unleashed a fierce shot from 25 yards past the goalkeeper after Hierro had only managed to head clear a Nigerian corner.

Now a member of FIFA’s Technical Study Group at the ongoing World Cup in Qatar, Oliseh met the former Real Madrid defender in Doha with both retired players recounting the memory of playing against each other 24 years ago.

“At the Al Thumama Stadium to work on Senegal vs Qatar, guess who I ran into? Spanish legend Fernando Hierro (middle), the last time I met him, he was heading the ball out to my direction as I was blessed to strike the goal versus Spain in France ’98. We had lots of laughs,” Oliseh wrote on Twitter.

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