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Revealed: How Rashidi Yekini Begged Teammates For Support Ahead 1994 World Cup

Revealed:  How Rashidi Yekini Begged Teammates For Support Ahead 1994 World Cup

Former Ajax star, Sunday Oliseh has made a startling revelation on how late Super Eagles striker, Rashidi Yekini had to appeal to his teammate for support prior to the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States of America.

Yekini, who scored Nigeria’s first World Cup goal in the team’s 3-0 thrashing of Bulgaria in the opening fixture, later found it difficult to score goals in subsequent matches despite his prolific goal-scoring record.

Nigeria crashed out of the Mundial after losing 2-1 to Italy in the round of 16. However, Oliseh in his new autobiography, titled ‘Audacity to Refuse’, stated that he was shocked to Yekini begged and knelt down before some of the ‘big boys’ in the team in a bid to avert gang-up.

“The next day we had a meeting amongst ourselves called up by Captain Keshi and the senior players. Several issues were discussed and like always, the youngsters and minorities, of which I was a member, just looked on speechless and impotent at the charade.

“To my greatest surprise, Rasheed Yekini, who had been criticised, in my opinion unjustly for certain small issues, went on his knees in front of the whole group and pleaded for forgiveness from anyone in the group who might have held any grudges against him for whatever reasons. I was totally shocked.

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“His reasoning, as I later gathered, was that he feared being ganged up against at the World Cup proper and deprived of service in matches. This action broke me down and till date has me puzzled. I felt revolted but impotent.

“In my opinion, he was the real and only superstar in the group, the most prolific in front of the goal, and by far the best striker the Super Eagles ever produced.

“Our entire attacking strength was built around him, and it was his goals that had qualified us for the 1994 World Cup.”

“He had almost single-handedly won us the 1994 African Nations Cup just weeks earlier, and without his potency, we did not stand a chance at the World Cup.”

“How could he beg for service when most of the goals he got at the AFCON he got from me and Finidi George, and we liked the guy, though he did not socialise enough with us to know it.”

By Augustine Akhilomen

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  • Oakfield 1 month ago

    “we liked the guy, though he did not socialise enough with us to know it.” are u now confessing???? Yet, most people including u would claim the class of 94 was the best we ever had but deep down inside was a group of jealous mafian wicked folks who would go to any length to ground a team mate. The same beef is still held by you against your own brother (Ndubuisi Egbo) who has achieved a feat no other african has achieved in the history of african football and the black race as a coach.

  • Olusegun.B. 1 month ago

    I was waiting for this revelation for a long time esp from Sunday Oliseh for he’s the only one who can definitely reveal the I’ll treatment Yekini passed through during the years of 1994 world cup in the USA. It’s saddening to know that players of that era conspired against him and it cost the super Eagles an opportunity to rise beyond second round in the world cup . Which is why when Daniel Amokachi started calling Yekini Egbon while comparing ohnachau to him, a lot of people rose against him be side they knew that he was one of those players who conspired against Yekini. This is so sad and so annoying . It even reflects on how Nigeria sabotages it’s process to glory due to jealousy, greed and bias .

    • Dammy 1 month ago

      Amokachi was not among the senior players in USA 94. The senior players were Keshi, Eguavoen, Okafor, Rufai, Agbonavbare, Okechukwu, Iroha, Siasia and possibly Nwanu.

      • Dammy 1 month ago

        Amokachi was responsible for Yekini going to the France 98 world cup at the expense of Jonathan Akpoborire to get at his close pal, Victor Ikpeba, who as APOY, was untouchable

  • Was keshi the leader of this gang up. I know keshi had always be the head of mafia in eagles for many years. With a lot of revelations from players about how he demanded for money before taking them to major competitions, I think bee need to do a research on the other side of keshi.

  • pompei 1 month ago

    It seemed implausible to me back then that there was a conspiracy against Yekini. There were persistent rumours about it, but I just refused to buy into it. My reasoning was – how can anyone foolishly fight against his own personal progress? Yekini may have scored most of the goals at Afcon 1994, but was it only Yekini that received a winner’s medal?
    What is wrong with Yekini scoring all the team’s goals?
    If I was a member of that team, I may dislike Yekini for whatever reason. I may not be on speaking terms with him. But on the field, I go give am assist taya, because when Yekini scores, I progress! I prosper!
    I will be delighted that I have a team mate who is willing and able to shoulder the goal scoring responsibility for the team! For selfish reasons, that is the pursuit of my own personal progress, I will give Yekini assists until Yekini gets tired of assists.
    After Yekini got that goal against Bulgaria, I thought it was very odd that the only player that came into the net to celebrate with him was Uche Okechukwu. Perhaps one or two others came also. But the majority of the team stayed away. That was Nigeria’s first world cup goal, ever! And I would have expected the whole team to come celebrate with Yekini. But only Okechukwu came.
    Is this evidence of the rumoured conspiracy, I asked myself back then. Still, it was not enough, in my opinion, to arrive at such a disturbing conclusion that Yekini’s national team mates were conspiring against him.
    If this report is true, then by depriving Yekini of assists at the world cup, these guys deprived themselves of the opportunity to at least qualify for the final of the competition. And who knows, they might have beaten Brazil in the final to win the cup. If they had cooperated with Yekini, they might all be world cup winners today. But alas, they chose to shoot themselves in the foot, and the opportunity is lost forever.
    If this report is true, the defeat to Italy is no longer a source of heartache for me. They have reaped what they sowed. The missed opportunity will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

    • King S 1 month ago

      But sadly, not every one (as a player then) will reason the way you think. There are some people that prefers stagnancy and failures just to punish one person. I don’t think you come across any before.

    • The way a shortsighted person think is such abysmal that they cannot see the harm they are causing themselves. Some don’t care if they loose as long as you loose. The same problem is everywhere in our daily living where nepotism, tribalism and religiousity has beclouded our reasoning

    • Dammy 1 month ago

      The real reason there was a conspiracy led by Keshi against Yekini was because of the recall of Chidi Nwanu to Super Eagles. Yekini publicly supported the recall of Nwanu, who was Nigeria’s best central defender but was shut out of the team by Keshi. His recall meant limited game time for Keshi and he took his revenge on Yekini.

  • Coache 1 month ago

    The beef started when he was given the golden boot award at AFCON 94 but did not share with his team mates. So they ganged up against him

  • OmoEsan 1 month ago

    In every rumour there’s probably an element of truth, so they say.

    The 1994 Super Eagles mafia story seemed unfounded up until this revelation by Sunday Oliseh.

    Few days before he was fired from the Super Eagles’ job, Samson Siasia appeared on Toyin Ibitoye’s Sports Tonight on Channels TV & Toyin asked him if a mafia truly existed in their era. Siasia’s response was diplomatic. He said the mafia was just a figment of the imagination of some people, and that what they had then was a group of players (senior players) who fought for the rights of the team. He proceeded further to say if a mafia truly existed, then Keshi was the leader of that mafia and he was the 2IC. About Rasheed Yekini, he said Rasheedi was a weird guy who never socializes with people and the only time you will see him active was when he was on the pitch training or during a match. He said they all later got used to Yekini’s way of life.

    Finidi was also questioned on the issue of why Yekini was left alone to celebrate Nigeria’s first world cup goal, and he said they were so happy and they ran in different directions celebrating the goal, everyone celebrating in their own way. Please where in the world of soccer does this type of celebration happen? It’s almost a natural phenomenon for teams to gather round their goal scorer to celebrate and I dare say that Finidi can give this his response to the marines.

    Who were the senior players in that era? Probably those that had been in the team since Morocco ’88 and Algiers ’90 AFCON tournaments. This list includes Stephen Keshi, Uche Okafor, Uche Okechukwu, Samson Siasia, Dan Amokachi, Austin Eguavoen, Peter Rufai, Rasheedi Yekini and may be Ben Iroha. The loyalty of a good number of these guys to Keshi was unquestionable due to the role Keshi played in helping them settle in Belgium, hence Keshi’s influence on the key players in the team was unrivaled not even by Westerhof.

    Chiding Nwanu’s story is a case in question. He was top quality and undoubtedly the man to bench a Stephen Keshi whose performance was on the decline at the time, but he was shut out of the team cuz he wouldn’t yield to the control of the powers that be. He missed Tunisia ’94 because of this and was probably forced on Westerhof pre USA ’94. He walked into that team and picked a starting shirt instantly, the rest is history.

    Peter Rufai was our best performing goalkeeper home or abroad in the early 1990s, but for reasons best known to Westerhof, Rufai was shut out of the Super Eagles for a long period until Rufai was forced on the team on the eve of Tunisia ’94, when Ike Shorounmu(3rd Choice at the time) had his name removed from the list so as to accommodate Rufai. Rufai also walked into that team , picked a starting shirt instantly and the rest is history.

    Were these incidents indicators of how powerful the so called mafia was?

    Some incidents that transpired at USA ’94 was clearly an indicator of disunity in the team. Firstly Yekini was left to celebrate alone and if we remember in our 3rd match against Greece, Yekini was starved of passes to the extent that by the time he got substituted for Okocha, he didn’t go back to the bench. He walked out of that pitch a sad man and stood alone, far from the bench. Yekini became a loner. It’s so painful that Yekini even knelt and begged these powers that be for forgiveness, yet they proceeded to carry out their plan.

    Like @Pompey said up there, Keshi and his cohorts sacrificed national glory and their personal achievements just to take their pound of flesh from a fellow team member and this is sad. Oliseh’s revelation has confirmed our suspicions and has diluted whatever respect some of us had for that team.

    Interestingly it was this same Yekini that gave Amokachi and Siasia beautiful assists for their goals in that same world cup. What a life. If this isn’t jealousy and wickedness, then I don’t know what else to call it.

    Yekini did so well for the country and for himself.

    May the soul of the departed continually RIP.

  • Ayphillydegreat 1 month ago

    As talented and great that group was disunity was their major bane. Most of us that know this team very well we’re just kids back then. To the extent that it feels like we were all born to be fans of the SuperEagles. When Westerhoff came in he met a team on ground. The Morocco 88 team that lost to Cameroon in the final. He shut out Keshi and Rufai, recalled Yekini while he discovered Amokachi and Ikpeba to begin his era.

    Keshi’s influence on the team was absolutely unrivaled therefore, the senior players from 88 to 90 really have a say in every team issues including Yekini himself. By the time the the likes of Okocha, Oliseh, Amunike, Mutiu and Finidi came on board they had to be loyal to the senior players especially Keshi. I’m not saying Keshi didn’t do well for the team. However, for them to let that kind of bad belle beef affect what could’ve been is the reason the country remains what it is today. That was a team built to win the WorldCup, but they let the usual African mentality destroyed their legacy. No African Golden generation can boast of 4 APOY’s. They could’ve played in the final of the WorldCup in USA at least, but they lost that forever.

    Hopefully this generation under Rohr’s can change that. One thing I’m enjoying more than anyone else in this present SuperEagles is the unity among the players. We don’t have to depend on only one player to score for us now. Everyone is on the same page for the good of the team. Stories like this are very pathetic. Where did we get it all wrong? Are we cursed in that continent??? Sometimes even with the exposure of some in the western world, that usual African mentality never goes away. It’s quite unfortunate.

    • Really it’s very painful to read all these. I was in the Polytechnic in 1994 and when we lost the match against italy, a fellow student tore his cloth from the too to the bottom. I ll never forget that scene. I couldn’t not sleep that night. It was painful. That was a world cup we would have played in the final but we burst it by our foolishness.

      Now the revelations are coming out now. They are telling how they failed Nigerians and africans.

      Well the leadership in this present eagles are not like that one. That God for ekong, balogun, iwobi and even musa. These ones are foreign born. They won’t the useless African foolishness into the way things are done

  • Sean T 1 month ago

    I think this is exactly what Victor Osimhen need to do for his teammates at Napoli so they can feed him better. I smell enviness from his teammates, the wingers, zielinski the midfielder including Insigne the captain himself. Only Dries Mertens is ready to assist him well but unfortunately Gattuso don’t play them together anymore

  • The mafia thing still affected us again in france 98. When majority of the players that won gold in atlanta were to be integrated into the main super eagle, some of the old experience players felt threatening and another round of beefing ensue.

    I watch an interview where Austin Agoauvon said they wanted to do away with majority of 94 team and make use of the entire atlanta 96 team to prosecute the world qualifying game and the main tournament.

    Some of them who were not actually fit or have had their performance decline were smuggled into the team. Amokachi was nursing injury

  • Chris 1 month ago

    This 94 team brought with it, the good and the bad and the ugly even till date, this 94 team are hunting GR directly or Indirectly now

    they have noticed this new generation will make us forget the tears sorrow and shame of the almighty 94 team.

    • The loss to Italy that Wednesday night in 94 still remain the saddest day of my life, it was an open conspiracy against Nigeria joy on the night, but still they all reaped what they sow,one of Yekini’s undoing was recommendation of Tijani Babangida as option for Finidi George. We saw how one of them was buried in a scanty stadium with little or no guests present, none of them won Africa footballer of the year in spite of their potentials, now that they have all let us down, I hope they are fulfilled.

  • Dammy 1 month ago

    Amokachi was not among the senior players in USA 94. The senior players were Keshi, Eguavoen, Okafor, Rufai, Agbonavbare, Okechukwu, Iroha, Siasia and possibly Nwanu.

  • Dammy 1 month ago

    Stephen Keshi was a guest on Supersports ” Soccer Africa ” programme a few years ago and he revealed the gang-up against Yekini at the USA 94 world cup. The panelists were gobsmacked!
    I have a friend, a central defender, who trained with the team in Pappendal, and was dropped from the squad but returned to the team after the world cup and he said the 94 group was made up of the pettiness and envy on a scale that he had never experienced before. He said the team had no unity contrary to what Nigerians believed.
    Was it not this same Oliseh at the NFF gala a few years ago that was extolling the unity of the squad?