Olympic Men's Football Tournament
Date: 31st July 1996
Venue: Sanford Stadium, Athens
Full Time: 🇳🇬Nigeria 4 – 3 (ASDET) Brazil🇧🇷
Referee: Garcia Aranda (Spain)
(ASDET: Acronym for After Sudden Death Extra Time.)
Having witnessed so many matches with some magnificent come backs and heartbreaking records from Manchester United's last minute 2-1 win against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final in Barcelona to Liverpool's "wonder of Istanbul" in 2005 where the Reds shockingly turned around from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 in just 6 minutes with goals coming in the 53rd, 54th and 59 minutes, then move ahead to win 3-2 on penalties, not forgetting 4-3 win for the Italians in the 1970 semi-final between Italy and Germany at the Azteca Stadium Mexico City, I choose to go with the Atlanta 1996 semi final between Nigeria and Brazil because it was about my country, with a dream team tagged “Underdogs” and was never given a chance in the competition.
The Brazilian men team came twice but in Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988 but fell to France and Soviet Union respectively.
The year 1996 was a golden age for the team at the likes of Lima Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Bebeto, Juninho, Roberto Carlos and Dida were all found in a single team making them the favorite to win the gold medals in this category.
Sanford Stadium, Athens provided the setting for the match attract the most memorable match. The match will forever be remembered for Kanu's(Papilo) equalizer an extra time golden goal just four minutes to send Nigeria Straight to their first ever Olympic final in the men's football category.
Star boy Lima Ronaldo came into this game with four goals after four games.
Brazil could and should have won the match at regular time having taken the lead right from the first minutes of the game as Flavio Conceiçao scored a superb free-kick as the ball passed through the Dream Team defence wall but an angle from vertical is at the 20th minute leveled the score.
The celebration didn't last long as Brazil took the lead again at the 28' as Bebeto tapped in a low shot send to him by the Nigeria goalkeeper. Conceiçao doubled the lead 10 minutes later to scatter the Dream Team's hope of advancing to the final. The scores remain 3-1 at halftime.
The Dream Team now had it in mind to make sure that if they want to stand any chance of qualifying to the next round they have to score two goals in the next 45 minutes.
The comeback all began in the third quarter as Victor Ikpeba scored at the 78 minute. At the 90 minute Kanu levelled the scores in the last minute in style as he lift the ball above Dida before burying it in the net to send the match to extra time.
94'... Just 4 minutes into the extra time captain Kanu dropped a shoulder, sending two Brazilian defenders for a stroll on Copacabana beach, and slotted the ball past the keeper as Nigeria won 4-3 courtesy of the golden goal rule. What a comeback! What a drama!
Nigerians were shocked
Football fans around the world were shock.
The Brazilian players broke in tears.
Nigeria became the first African countries to qualify for the Men's football final at the Olympics.
The Nigerian Dream Team, that represented Nigeria at the 1996 Olympicsin Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America, will always be remembered for their unprecedented remarkable achievement of winning gold after defeating Argentina at the final 3-2.