Former Super Eagles winger Tijani Babangida, has stated why the then defending champions, Nigeria, failed to turn up for the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.
The former Ajax forward in an interview with AOIFootball.com 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.
Nigeria, who 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 Nine.
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.
Babangida explained that Abacha had a meeting with the players to explain why they would miss the tournament.
“He (Abacha) summoned us to Aso Rock and explained to us his problem with the rest of the world and also with South Africa,” Babangida told AOIFootball.
“He said he could not guarantee our safety and believed they could reach us just to get to him.
“He, however, told us that we could go at our own risk but we decided to honour the father of the nation,” Babangida revealed.