The Confederation of African Footbal (Caf) president Issa Hayatou says the entire continent will miss Nigeria at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Equatorial Guinea.
Holders Nigeria lost out in their bid to defend the Afcon title after falling short of success in a must-win last qualifying game against South Africa at the Akwa Ibom International Stadium last month.
Hayatou lamented Nigeria’s absence but encouraged the ‘Super Eagles’ to rebound “much stronger” as was the case in 2013, when they won a third title in South Africa after missing out on the 28th edition of the showpiece the previous year in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
“The whole of Africa will miss Nigeria in Equatorial Guinea,” Hayatou said in a statement to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). “But the absence will not in any way diminish your stature as a very big and influential nation in the African game.
“It would have been good to have the defending champions in Equatorial Guinea. Nigeria brings so much value to the Africa Cup of Nations. However, we know that you will come back much stronger.”