Sports Minister, NFA mourn Super Eagles midfielder, Oliha

The ex-Nigerian midfielder died on Sunday morning.

The Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, on Sunday condoled with family of former Super Eagles midfielder, Thompson Oliha, who died on Sunday at Ilorin, the Kwara capital.

Mr. Abdullahi, in a statement signed by Julius Ogunro, his Special Adviser on Media, described Oliha as a “dedicated and thoroughbred professional’’.

“He always put the nation first and he was a member of the golden generation of Nigerian football history.

“Late Oliha was a very influential member of the Super Eagles in the 90s and he contributed greatly to the success of that team. He was a true patriot, motivated by the desire to don the Nigerian jersey than by pecuniary interests.

“He would be deeply missed by the sporting community in Nigeria and the world at large,’’ the statement said.

In a related development, the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) has described Oliha’s death as “shocking’’.

Musa Amadu, the General Secretary of the NFA, said the player’s sudden demise on Sunday was a tragedy of `huge’ proportions.

“Oliha was one of the best midfielders to have played for Nigeria. His comments and analyses on Nigeria football over the years have been quite informed and useful. The Nigeria Football Federation and the entire Nigeria football family mourn Oliha’s sudden death.

“He was certainly one of the nation’s greats and acquitted himself brilliantly in the national colours.

“Now, we have lost another member of the Golden Generation, after the deaths of Uche Okafor and Rashidi Yekini,” Amadu said.

Late Oliha, 44, the coach of Kwara Football Academy, died in a private hospital in Ilorin on Sunday.

The former Super Eagles midfielder played for Iwuanyanwu Nationale FC and Bendel Insurance FC and Africa Sports of Cote d’Ivoire, in his playing days. He also played for Ironi Ashdod FC in Israel and later Antalyaspor FC in Turkey.

The late footballer first played for the senior national team in a 1988 Olympic Games qualifying match against Algeria in Annaba in January 1988. He was also a member of the Golden Generation that qualified Nigeria for her first-ever FIFA World Cup finals and reached the Round of 16 in USA.

He was also in the team that won the Africa Cup of Nations for Nigeria in Tunisia in 1994.


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