Red carpet for Okacha
ABUJA - The Nigerian state of Delta's government is planning to roll out the red carpet in honour of the legendary Austin "Jay Jay" Okocha on June 26 when he retires from international soccer.
As part of the celebrations, there will be a testimonial match for the mercurial midfielder featuring the Super Eagles of Nigeria against a Rest of Africa squad at the Warri Stadium.
Zimbabwe's Benjamin Mwaruwaru and Benni McCarthy of South Africa are some of the top players on the continent who have been invited by the Delta State Football Association to feature for the Rest of Africa squad.
Others include Michael Essien, Rigobert Song, Kolo Toure, Samuel Eto'o, Sule Muntari, El Hadji Diouf, Emmanuel Eboue and Didier Drogba.
Okocha made his international debut in 1993 when Nigeria lost 2-1 to Ivory Coast in a World Cup qualifier in Abidjan. Ironically, it also ended with a defeat by the same Elephants of Ivory Coast at the 2006 Afcon finals in Egypt.
The two-time African player of the year has featured in three World Cups and scored 14 goals in 75 appearances for Nigeria. Okocha was also a member of the Dream Team that made history by becoming the first African country to win an Olympic gold medal at the Atlanta Games in 1996.
"The response from the soccer greats on the continent has been great, [they want] to feature in Austin's testimonial match," said Amaju Pinnick, chairman of the Delta State Football Association.
Okocha joined English First Division side Hull City from Qatar last year. He has announced he will quit soccer at the end of this season, but is likely to change his mind now that Hull City were promoted to the Premiership.