In 2004 three Super Eagles players were sent home from the Africa Nations Cup for breaching camp rules and the man in the center of that storm insists he has no regrets and owes nobody any apology.
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Gideon Akinsola (rtd) was the Super Eagles camp commandant in 2004 and Nigeria had just lost their opening game to Morocco.
While doing his late evening rounds, he discovered three players were out of the camp, his findings led to the expulsion of Celestine Babayaro, Victor Agali and Yakubu Aiyegbeni.
Speaking on Brila fm’s Big Sports Breakfast Show on Wednesday, ACP Akinsola (rtd) debunked claims he was tipped off about the missing players.
Recounting the events of the fateful evening, 14 years after, he insists he doesn’t owe the three players any apology for “carrying out his job and doing the right thing.”
“We had lost our first game and were supposed to have another just 24 hours after. It was annoying. I don’t owe them any apology. They broke camp rules and they knew the penalty.
“It wasn’t my sole decision to send the players back home, it was a decision authorized by the hierarchy.
When asked by former Super Eagles defender Ifeanyi Udeze; a player at the same tournament, if he felt any sense of guilty because Nigeria eventually finished third and without three quality players, ACP Akinsola responded “No”.
“I was accountable to the President (of Nigeria) over the security of Nigerian lives in that hotel. I had to answer to him.
“And so, when we returned I gave my report. When we returned from the 2004 Afcon, the President singled me out for praise. He famously called our Bronze a “Golden Bronze”, because we instilled discipline in the team.”
“Yet, let me say I have met all three players at different times and we banter and have decent conversations. There’s no bad blood here.”