While lamenting Nigeria’s absence, the Caf boss said the Super Eagles absence will not in any way diminish the country’s importance to the structure of Africa football.
"The whole of Africa will miss Nigeria in Equatorial Guinea. But the absence will not in any way diminish your stature as a very big and influential nation in the African game, Hayatou said in a statement to the Nigeria Football Federation.
"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, as you did in winning the cup in South Africa last year after missing out on the 2012 championship,” he concluded.
Nigeria will be recalled missed out of the 2012 edition co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea/ Gabon after been forced to a 2-2 draw by Guinea in the last qualifying game played in Abuja.