On August 3, 1996 would forever be etched in the keeper of African football and even more so for the crazy Nigerian fans who cheerfully celebrated football’s historic first gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Prior to West Africans’ feat at Atlanta’s four-year games, the African had been working to win all sorts of medals since 1920, when Egypt was the first to represent the continent in Olympic Football (OFT).
The Pharaohs lost third place to then East Germany at the 1964 Tokyo Games, while other notable titles included that of Zambia hammering Italy 4-0 with a famous hold for Kalusha Bwalya in one of the preliminary group matches at the 1998 Seoul Games; and there was also a historic bronze medal for Ghana’s black meteors at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
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Four years after Ghana’s feat in Spain, Nigeria went further when their Under 23 national team, proudly labeled Dream Team, in reference to some talented players from Dutch manager Jo Bonfrere, took the gold medal in the football with ease in the United States.
Striker Victor Ikpeba soon struck a lively shot past goalkeeper Dida to reduce the tally to 3-2 and in regulation time, Nwankwo Kanu popped up to level before drilling it between defenders Aldair and Ronaldo Guira for the equalizer. And in the fourth of extra time, Kanu again delivered the ‘golden goal’ to set Nigeria against another South American super power, Argentina for the Gold Medal Match.