Olympic Football: Nigeria’s dream team has been unbelievable

Nigeria had so much joy in America during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, which has remained the country's best ever showing. Photocredit: http://www.goal.com

Nigeria had so much joy in America during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, which has remained the country’s best ever showing. Photocredit: http://www.goal.com

Nigeria’s football Dream Team VI has been commended as one of Africa’s standout athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympic games after surviving a perilous journey.

Delay in getting connecting flight from the United States almost cost the young squad their first match with Japan. But they went on to beat Japan and Sweden. They lost to Columbia in the final group match. But they had qualified for the quarter final before the match. It meant some of the first team players were rested in the match against Columbia.

But in a game that revives some of the amazing memories in Nigeria’s Olympic history, the Siasia led team dared to dream. Nigeria beat Denmark two goals to nothing in the quarter finals, setting up a mouth watering encounter with Germany in the semi final. Should Nigeria go on to win the Olympic gold, it would unite a continent in desperate need of heroic countrymen.

Africa has abundant footballing nations.

In a continent battling deep economic problems, football has helped ordinary kids navigate their way out of poverty. For decades, poor African boys turned their village bushy fields into stepping stone for success playing football.

In Atlanta 1996 Olympic games, Nigeria’s football team inspired a generation of African football communities. That if they only can dream, work hard and persevere great things are possible. It is today one of the remarkable stories in Nigeria’s footballing folklore.

Against all odds, a young vibrant Nigerian squad beat Brazil, 4 -3, in the semi final. It reminded Africans about what is possible in collective strength. The dream team featuring some of  Nigeria’s footballing talents like Kanu Nwankwo and Jay Jay Okocha did not rest on their semifinal success.

Becoming the first African team to reach the Olympic football final did not make them think they had arrived. They continued dreaming and pushing. Dubbed the comeback kids, they came from  two goals down in the final to beat Argentina, 3 -2.

20 years later, we are at the cross road of greatness. Can Nigeria’s Dream team VI open a new chapter in Africa’s Olympic history?

 

 

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