The late Big boss Stephen Keshi will go down as the fifth member of Super Eagles squad that clinched the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia to have died.
The class of 1994 Eagles was famously referred to as the Golden generation of the country’s football. Aside from winning the Nations Cup, the team tutored by Dutchman Clemens Westerhof went on to earn Nigeria a first ever ticket for the FIFA World Cup in the USA in the same year.
The team thrilled the world at its debut World Cup appearance finishing in the second round and returning home with the tournament’s second most entertaining team award.
Uche Okafor was the first member of the squad to die in 2011. He was found hanging at his Dallas, Texas home and a preliminary report by the Dallas police ruled that the easy-going defender hanged himself. But his family, friends and the Nigerian community in America rejected the suicide claims as they suspected foul play.
Rashidi Yekini, another key figure in the USA 94 World Cup and Tunisia 94 Nations Cup winning squad who netted 37 goals as a Nigerian international, and represented the nation in five major tournaments, including two World Cups where he scored the country’s first-ever goal in the competition, also passed on, on May 4, 2012 in Ibadan.
The 1993 African Footballer of the Year bagged 58 caps for the Eagles.
Midfield ace Thompson Oliha who retired at the age of 27 as a result of a knee injury was an assistant coach for the Kwara Football Academy until he died allegedly following complications from malaria in June 2013. Oliha bagged 31 caps for Nigeria.
News of the demise of goalkeeper Wilfred Agbonavbare in January 2015 was even more tragic.
He died after suffering from cancer. Agbonavbare had underwent treatment at the Hospital Universitario Príncipe de Asturias in Alcalá de Henares. Rayo Vallecano and Atlético Madrid displayed a banner during their league match at the Vicente Calderón Stadium on 24 January that read “Fuerza Wilfred” (You Can Do It Wilfred). He succumbed to the disease three days later, aged 48. Agbonavbare played 15 times for the Super Eagles.
Agbonavbare appeared with the Nigerian under-20s at the 1983 FIFA World Youth Championship in Mexico. He played for more than one decade with the full side, being selected for the 1994 African Cup of Nations and that year’s FIFA World Cup, backing up Peter Rufai on both occasions.
Keshi who died yesterday morning in Benin-City alongside Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary were the only two people to have won the Africa Cup of Nations as a player and a coach.

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