In edition 873 of Soccer Laduma, Nigeria and world football legend, Nwankwo Kanu, points out with complete confidence that the Nigerian class of 1996 would've beaten Bafana Bafana at the Afcon held in South Africa in the same year. Yet, the record shows Nigeria didn't take part due to politics and South African famously took the crown.
There is still an argument ongoing about who should've won the Afcon in '96. Nigerians all over the world still contend that Bafana's greatest achievement would never had happened if Nigeria had taken part.
Indeed, that Super Eagles of that era was a very special team - they had world class players like Jay-Jay Okocha, Kanu, Daniel Emunike, Daniel Amokachi and Stephen Keshi in their ranks. They also won the summer Olympic games after beating the likes of Argentina and Brazil.
This is what Kanu states in this week's edition of the paper, "SA was champions, but they didn't play the champions to become champions...From '94 onwards, we ruled the continent. We were flying then...In '96 I was involved. I wanted to come here because we all knew we would have won the same way we had done in 1994 and at the Olympics. (We would've won) 100%."
Nonetheless, Barker, the legendary coach who led the national team to the title, disagrees with Kanu's Bafana jibes.
He earlier told Soccer Laduma, "We were a powerhouse as well, hey. We were a team who could play from home. In that era, we played well against the top 10 countries in the world. I don’t think if the Nigerian’s had played in 1996 they would’ve won. I mean if you remember how we played against Ghana in the semi-final. That team are Nigeria’s benchmark because they’re right next door to each other."
Barker concluded, "I think they didn’t play us because they knew they’d get a smack. They have to accept we were the champions of that time...let the Nigerian’s dream about what might’ve happened because history will show Bafana won.”
To find out more about Kanu's thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of South African football, get your copy of Soccer Laduma (issue 873) which is in stores and on sale now!