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Adeshina: My Absence Cost Nigeria 1988 AFCON Final Against Cameroon

Adeshina: My Absence Cost Nigeria 1988 AFCON Final Against Cameroon

Former Nigeria international Ademola Adeshina says his absence in the 1988 Africa Cup of Nations final in Morocco led to Nigeria’s defeat to Cameroon.

Adeshina was sent off in the semi-final clash between Nigeria and Algeria with six minutes left in the game.

Just two minutes after his dismissal Algeria equalised and drag the game into extra-time before Nigeria went on to win 9-8 on penalties.

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But in the final, Nigeria lost 1-0 to Cameroon following Emmanuel Kunde’s 55th minute penalty after Roger Miller was fouled inside the 18-yard box.

And reflecting on the 1988 final, the former Abiola Babes and Shooting Stars midfielder stated that his important role in the Eagles then would have led them to the title.

“If I’d played that final the game would have been different,” Adeshina said in a short video interview published on the Twitter handle of Kuli Kuli Football.

“Cameroon were so glad even Issa Hayatou (former CAF president) was so happy that I was out of the match because I was the key player and engine room then for Nigeria.

“If I’m playing Peter Rufai or any other keeper are always happy. Even late Stephen Keshi was always happy because I know how to organise, defend and also know how to attack.

“So I believe if I had played we would have won the match.”

The 63-year-old who is the current chairman of Osun United, represented Nigeria at three AFCONs in 1984, 1988 and 1990.

He also had a brief spell in Belgium with Sporting Lokeren.

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  • GLORY 4 years ago

    No doubt Ademola Adesina was a very good player then, many seemed not to have taken note of then.

  • Very good player indeed. But his absence for not cost us the final match. We met an equally good camerounian team in the final. Eagles played so well. Okosieme, nwosu, Keshi, Humphrey edobor and the late Yekinni tried their best. I think what affected us so much in that competition was the absence of Samson Siasia in the tournament due to club engagement. The club did not release him. Before the tournament, Siasia was ahead if even Yekinni in our attack. He just did well in 1985 youth tournaments in Russia and was doing good for our attack before the nations cup in 1988.

    Another cause was that of Keshi. Keshi did not stay in the team throughout the tournament. In fact he only played the two matches we played against cameroun in the tournament. Another club issues. He flew in through his club’s jet for the two games. Keshi never really jelled with the team though he showed 69% of what he was capable of doing in the two matches.

    • Olalekan 4 years ago

      I think Keshi should not have played in the final, he did not really blend with the team, although he was a great player. I think Bright Omokaro also missed that final match making it two strong players out: Adeshine and Omokaro, so, the defence line was already weakened. Cameroon was good but we would have won.

  • Dammy 4 years ago

    His presence did not stop Cameroon from beating us in the 1984 AFCON final, so what difference would it have made in 1988?

    • Dr. Drey 4 years ago

      No mind am. Its like Benedict Akwuegbu saying his absence cost Nigeria the 2000 final against cameroon…Lolz
      His presence did not help us win the same Cameroon when we met them in the group stages. We won only 1 game the whole tournament and he featured in all of them but the final. Otherwise one would think he was a major winning influence as such.

      Truth be told, that Cameroon team was a strong one….a legendary one. A bulk of them won the 1984 edition, went unbeaten at the 1982 WC and got to the Qfinals of the 1986 WC…the likes of Bell, Sango’o, Biyik brothers, Milla, Kunde, Eugene Ekeke, Abega (the killer Doctor), Makanaki all formed the bulk of that great generation. Even at club level, drawn from the likes of Canon Yaounde, Tonere Kalala, Tonere Yaounde, they dominated club competitions in Africa in the late 70s and 80s

      • Cameroon didn’t participate at mexico 1986 at all.The two african representatives then were Algeria and Morocco bro..

        • Dr. Drey 4 years ago

          My bad… 1990 WC rather…!

        • KENNETH 1 year ago

          If you didn’t speak up that would have been another lie he would throw in forum members faces, Now saying my bad. Stick that down ur ass

  • Pompei 4 years ago

    I still remember Ademola Adeshina’s goal against Algeria in the 1988 Olympic qualifiers. It was a BALLISTIC MISSILE of a shot. The poor goalie had no chance. To attempt to save a shot like that would have been suicidal, as the ball was struck with so much ferocity. Quite similar to Oliseh’s screamer against Spain in World cup 1998.
    Adeshina was definitely a good midfielder. A DM who loved to support the attack. Helped to keep the defense organized.
    I don’t know that his absence should be blamed for our failure to win the cup in 1988. As Dr. Drey said, that Cameroon squad was loaded to the hilt with quality. So even with him present, it was always going to be a tough game for us. The daylight robbery that occurred when Henry Nwosu’s header was disallowed, plus the dubious penalty awarded to the Lions after an Oscar-worthy dive by Mr. Milla, these events were just too much for us to handle, and ensured that the Lions carried the day. Milla’s diving skills are so impressive, rumor has it that several South American football academies have contacted Mr. Milla to come and teach the kids how to dive in the box. For South Americans, who are themselves the most skilled divers in world football, to consider it necessary to seek Mr. Milla’s assistance, shows just how good Mr. Milla was in the diving arts.
    That Cameroon team was also known for their robust play. If they identify you as a threat, you are in trouble. They were so good at playing KILL AND BURY football, hacking down opponents with abandon. Even Maradona in his prime in 1990 could not cope with the vicious Cameroonian tackles. And back then, to beat Argentina, you had to keep Maradona quiet. Cameroon did just that, and won the game by a loan goal.

    • Lord AMO 4 years ago

      @Pompei, I remember that olympic qualifier like it was yesterday.  We were listening to the match on our transistor radio which we had snuck into our dorm in boArding school at the time.  It was the last hurdle before the olympics and we had lost, to the then desert warriors of algeria, in the first leg by 1-0.  We scored the first goal and were looking for that elusive second when in the dying minutes we scored the goal that took us to the olympics.  We erupted with joy at the sound of “its a goooooooooal for Nigeriaaaaaaaa….”. Oh those were the days.  

      I dont quite remember the order of goal scorers but i think it was Ndubuisi Okosieme that scored the winning goal.  Algeria’s keeper was Dridde Nasredinne.

      • Nonso Okoye 1 year ago

        The second goal was by Henry Nwosu. It was another missile, almost like the first goal by Ademola Adesina

  • Here we go again, isn’t soccer a team sports again. To my recollection Nigeria outplayed cameroon in the final, we were just robbed. Even CAF knew it but couldn’t comment. Please uncle demola even your presence will not change anything, the squad was loaded

  • Nigeria simply played and lost against
    ! Issa Hayaotu and CAF, period

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