Mexico National Football Team Vs. Ecuador National Football Team The Amazing Story of the Nigeria Olympic Dream Team

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The Amazing Story of the Nigeria Olympic Dream Team

The Dream One team was coached by Dutchman Johannes Bonfrère and started their journey with a 1-0 win over Hungary and a 2-0 win over Japan before ending the first round with a 1-0 loss to the enterprising Brazilians. The Africans then shut out Mexico, led by eccentric goalkeeper Jorge Campos, 2-0 in the quarter-finals to set up a pair of remarkable matches.

Having lost 3-1 in the semi-finals to a strong Brazil side that boasted Bebeto, Ronaldo and Rivaldo, Nigeria finally woke up in the 78th minute as Victor Ikpeba scored from 20 metres. With time running out, inspirational captain Nwankwo Kanu took center stage and scored a last-minute near-post goal to equalise. With barely three minutes left in extra time, Kanu slotted home the game-winner from 16 meters out, completing one of the greatest comebacks in international football history in what many observers consider to be the greatest Olympic football match ever played.

The Dream Team later went on to pull off another miraculous comeback against Argentina in the gold medal game in front of 86,117 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. At the end of 90 minutes of exciting football, Nigeria beat Argentina.

The Argentines won 2-1 thanks to goals from Claudio Lopez, who headed in the third minute, and Hernan Crespo, who scored from the penalty spot in the 50th minute of the game. A resilient Dream One team came back strongly in the game and equalized in the 74th minute when striker Daniel Amokachi scored the decisive goal. With a minute left, substitute Emmanuel Amunake scored the winning goal to give Nigeria a 3-2 win.

It was a momentous day in the history of Nigerian football as the world football community celebrated a rare feat by an African.

The second dream team

With the success of Dream Team I in Atlanta 1996, the pressure was on Dream Team 2 to perform at the 2000 Olympic Games in the beautiful city of Sydney, Australia.

The team was not short of quality players as they had Victor Agali, Yakubu Ayegbeni, Garba Lawal and Celestine Babayaro in their squad but unfortunately they lost in the quarter finals. In their first game, the two Dream Teams drew with Honduras 3:3 and in their second game they beat Australia 3:2. They drew 1-1 with Italy to set up a thrilling quarter-final clash with Chile. It was a match that exposed the inadequacy of the Dream Two side as they were humiliated 4-1 by an uninspired Chile side.

Nigerian Dream Team Three dreams never last forever

The dream died in 2004 when Nigeria’s Olympic football team, then known as the Dream Group of Three, failed to qualify for the African qualifiers. Tunisia qualified for Athens 2004 with an embarrassing 2-0 loss to Nigeria in their final group game in Tunis against Third Dream. The team that also represented the country at the 8th Africa Cup of Nations hosted by Nigeria made it to the finals of the football tournament, only to lose 2-0 to Cameroon at the ultra-modern Abuja National Stadium.

Dream Team Four – The rebirth of Nigeria’s Olympic team

In 2008, when a group of talented soccer players, descendants of the under-20 team that won silver medals at the 2005 World Youth Championship in Holland, stormed Beijing to compete in the Olympic soccer tournament. Coach Samson Siasia, one of the best youth coaches in Nigeria, took them to the Olympics. Along with heavyweights such as the Netherlands, Japan and the United States in Group B, the Dream Four opened their Olympic football campaign with a 0-0 draw with the Netherlands before coming back to record a spirited 2-1 win over Japan. They confirmed their dominance in the group with another 2-1 win over the United States. Ivory Coast fell to coach Samson Siasia’s side in the quarter-finals as they lost 2-0.

The semi-final pair saw their best performance from the Dream Four as they ran riot against a hapless Belgium side who tried hard to contain the aggressive Nigerians. The match ended 4-1 in Nigeria’s favor and once again set the stage for an interesting clash between Nigeria and arch-rivals Argentina. It was a repeat of the 2005 U20 World Cup in Holland, as the key players were still very much on both sides. Revenge was what the Nigerians were singing about and they had a diminutive Lionel Messi to fight in their bid to win their second Olympic football gold since 1996. It was a close encounter, capped by a lone goal in the 58th minute. Game Angel Di Maria from Argentina. The Dream Four were once again forced to play second fiddle to an experienced Argentina side as they lost 1-0 in an epic encounter.

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