Former Super Eagles winger Tijani Babangida, has revealed reasons why the Super Eagles whoare defending champions, failed to turn up for the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa. Speaking with newsmen, the former Ajax forward said the country’s then Head of State, the late General Sani Abacha, could not guarantee the team’s safety at the tournament due to the political issues between both countries.
Recall that Nigeria, won the 1994 AFCON edition in Tunisa after defeating Zambia in the final, had to pull out of the next tournament, citing fears over the security of the national team in South Africa, which strongly criticised the Nigerian government for executing the famous Ogoni 9. The Eagles were tipped to successfully defend their title in South Africa considering the array of stars that the country paraded, but missed out on the opportunity to do so.
According to Babangida, Abacha summoned the team to Aso Rock and explained to them his problem with the rest of the world and also with South Africa. He said he could not guarantee their safety and believed that the government of South African can only reach him through the players. He further stated that if the team wishes to go, it’s on their own risk.
Story by: NCN Sports Editor, Ugochukwu Okeiyi