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Ivoirians locked my legs with juju before Cup final – Ex-ASEC star Ogunlade


Jan. 09, 2021

Johnny Edward
Former U-23 midfielder, Akeem Ogunlade, says he was a victim of ‘juju’ during his two-year spell at Ivoirian giants Asec Mimosas.
The 45-year-old played for First Bank, Stationery Stores and El Kanemi Warriors on the domestic scene, before joining ASEC in 1991 and winning two league titles with the former African champions.
“An Ivoirian teammate at the club then told me that my legs were locked with juju because they believed that without me ASEC will lose. But we won 5-4 on penalties after full time score ended 4-4.
“I struggled to walk for days but I’m grateful to God for life. That experience made me turn down Henri Kasperzak’s offer to play for Ivory Coast at the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations.”
Ogunlade is also ruing his luck 25 years later, after injury cost him a place in Nigeria’s 1996 Olympic Games football squad and a dream move to Borussia Dortmund in 1998.
He holds a UEFA B coaching license and currently coaches DJFA, an amateur club in Lagos.
“I had good moments playing football from a tender age but injury denied me two good opportunities to blossom when it mattered most,” Ogunlade said.
“I was part of the U-23 team that started the qualifying series for the 1996 Olympics but I sustained a knee injury in the first leg first round game against Kenya in Lagos.
“The game ended goalless and that prompted the Nigerian Football Federation at that time to invite some Super Eagles players who were still within the age range to bolster the team ahead of the second leg, which we won 3-0.
“Gradually, I lost my place to the likes of Sunday Oliseh and Austin Okocha, who were already regulars in the Eagles at that time.
“Their inclusion helped the team beat Egypt 4-3 on aggregate and the team went on to beat Zimbabwe 2-0 on aggregate in the final round to qualify for the Olympics.”
Ogunlade said a knee ligament injury also ruined a potential move to Dortmund in 1998 after an agreement was reached in principle with the club.
“I had an agreement in principle to join Borussia Dortmund at the start of the 1998/99 season.
“Dortmund’s coach at that time Nevio Scala, an Italian, had told me not to sign for any club, assuring me that I was going to join him the following season. Unfortunately, I sustained the injury and was ruled out for nine months.
“That move would have ended the struggles I encountered at the start of my career.”
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