MOST MEMORABLE GAME IN ATLANTA: Where Nigeria Olympics Team Scored A Golden Goal

It’s a g-o-a-l! It’s a g-o-a-l! I could hear the deafening shout all over.  It was like the whole Nigeria was shouting at the same time. Kanu had scored again in just 3 minutes of the extra time… and there was a new rule “the Golden goal” (The first to score in the extra time wins the game). We watched on our TV set as the center referee picked up the ball and blew the final whistle. It was all over! We ran out of our sitting room shouting,” Up Nigeria! “Up Nigeria!”

And at the streets of Lagos, everyone came out. Many football fans over joy, pulled off their clothes and ran stack naked on the street. Some rolled out Vehicle tires and set up burn fire on the highway to light up the night. It was about 10pm, and many restaurant and local bar owners re-opened and made sales like never before. Everyone was in a celebration mood. Ibo, Yoruba, Hausa people sat together and drank. Muslim, Christians came together and talked about the game. The difference doesn’t seem to matter anymore. People gathered in groups, sang and ran cross country in celebration of the victory. Unbelievable! The Nigeria dream team had beaten the almighty Brazil at the semi finals of Atlanta 96 Olympics football event.

Right there in Atlanta the celebration was the same. Never had the 64, 000 spectators at the stadium seen such a turn around in one game. It was to be a one sided game; Brazil obviously dominated the game and the score line was Brazil 3, Nigeria 1. The Brazilian players were just waiting for the time to tick away. They have previously beaten Nigeria 1 – 0 in the group stage of the competition and they seem to have weighed them out again. So the Brazilian coach began to substitute his key players like Ronaldo, Juninho… to preserve them for the finals. But he was in for a big surprise.

The Nigeria team like wounded lions woke up from their slumber at the 78th minutes when Victor Ikepba stroked from 20 meters to score the second goal and the pressure came upon Brazil. The Nigeria team so motivated began to fire from every angle as the Brazilians struggled to contain them. And just 2 minutes to full time, out of a goal mouth scramble, Kanu turned and flipped the ball over Dida, the Brazilian goal keeper, for the equalizer. The whole stadium went agog!

It was not the first time Nigeria team had performed such feat. They did similar thing in the world youth championship (WYC) in Saudi Arabia. What is popularly known in Nigeria as “the Daman Miracle>” But the Atlanta 96 victory over Brazil was so remarkable. It was a sweet revenge after all.

First, Brazil assembled one of the best team ever. With incredible players like, Bebeto, Juninho, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Carlos… They wanted to make history as a country that has won every football competition they ever participated. They wanted to win the Olympics gold medal for the football event for the first time. But Nigeria denied them that privilege again.

Second, the Olympics football event was a big stage and a good place for Nigeria to make a football statement – African football has arrived!

The 90s’ was so rosy for Nigeria football. Nigeria won the under 16 world soccer tournament in Japan 93, the Super Eagles won the African Cup of Nations in 94 and then, the Olympics gold medal in Atlanta 96. Anytime I felt bad about the state of Nigeria football today, I go back to the good old days to watch Nigeria Vs Brazil game. I have watched that game on Youtube for over a thousand times and you too can watch it again below.

It’s unfortunate that most players in that team had retired now, and we do not have such caliber of player anymore. However, it still gives me hope that Nigeria can rule the world in football, if we begin to do the right things now.

1 comment:

  1. Ms. Ahmad is a Master personal trainer, an aerobics instructor, a Fitness Nutrition Coach, and holds numerous certifications in cardio kickboxing, circuit boxing, and body sculpting. She also has over 25 years of experience in classical dance and Pilates. Basheerah holds a Master Degree in Exercise Science from the California University of Pennsylvania, and recently authored her self-help book; Love yourself enough to be healthy: 50 affirmations to your best life.


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