The Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Sports, Daniel Amokachi has revealed that the Super Eagles were paid $20,000 each for pulling out of the Africa Cup of Nations event in 1996, South Africa.
Amokachi revealed on Sports radio 88.9 FM that the late Head of State, Sani Abacha held a meeting with the team and told them that the issue with Nigeria and South Africa was just political and it had nothing to do with football.
“That year we knew we had a great team that can win the championship and we were already looking forward to a wonderful event in South Africa”, Amokachi said.
In the same vein, Former Super Eagles star, Tijani Babangida had also revealed that the Eagles missed the 1996 AFCON in South Africa because the late Abacha said he could not guarantee their safety.
Nigeria were the defending champions having won their second title at Tunisia in 1994. But after much deliberations, they decided not to travel to South Africa who were the host in 1996.
There were tensions between Nigeria and South Africa after the Sani Abacha-led Government was criticised for the killing of nine minority rights activists (Ogoni 9).
Babangida revealed the team had a meeting with the Late Abacha. At the meeting, Abacha told the squad the federal government could not guarantee the team’s safety, but they could still travel at their own risk.
“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 said.
“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,” the former Ajax star added.
The Super Eagles were subsequently banned from the 1998 edition in Morocco but made a return at the 2000 edition which they co-hosted with Ghana.