Tales of the Atlanta Olympics between Nigeria and Brazil


During the match, the Barca goalkeeper saved a goal and immediately found Ronaldinho in the left wing with a long throw, the mercurial Brazilian received the ball with a delightful touch and advance with a lovely run, he beat an onrushing opponent with a delightful body movement and kept advancing, he met a second marker and dribbled past him too, cutting inside the midfield, he met and a third marker who he dribbled past with a cut back and  he took two or three more steps before releasing a thunderous stunner which roofed on to the net sending the crowd to a loud shout of goal and celebration.

The marked the beginning of what the Brazilian had in store for the Catalunya club. Ronaldinho went ahead to make a name for the club winning a champions league and two Spanish leagues. Enough of Ronaldinho, let’s get to the topic of the day. Brazil vs Nigeria, the two countries are known to have a rivalry between them in football. It began in 1996 when the teams squared at the Olympic tournament in Atlanta, USA. They played twice in the tournament. Their first meeting was in the group stage when Brazil emerged winner with a two-one victory. Note that Brazil has never won the Olympic tournament and they want the trophy so badly. They paraded young stars who would go on to make their mark in the beautiful game of football and some the stars paraded include Delima Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Bebeto among others.

Nigeria too paraded emerging stars who later became household names and some of the stars paraded by Nigeria include Jajay Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo, Victor Ikpeba, Celestine babayaro, Uche Okechukwu and many more. The first game ended in favour of the South American side and they appeared a clear favourite to lift the trophy which has eluded the country since its inception. After defeating Nigeria in the group stage, Nigeria managed to emerge runner up of the group after defeating Hungary and Japan. In the quarter-final, Nigeria was paired with Mexico and they did well to defeat their opponent and progressed to the semi-final of the tournament where they squared to meet a familiar foe, the tournament’s favourite, Brazil. The match would forever be remembered to the African nation. The match against Brazil in the Atlanta 96 Olympic tournament is what no Nigeria who witnessed the match would be in a hurry to forget.

The game began as expected with the Brazilians who are favourite in the match detecting the pace and rhythm of the game. Brazil paraded their strongest squad with Delima Ronaldo who would go on to the world best player that year leading the park for the South American nation, Bebto and Roberto Carlos were also on parade with Brazil looking forward to beating Nigeria and advance to the final of the competition.

Brazil took the lead early in the first half with scintillation play. Ronaldo was on the scorecard beating the Nigerian goalkeeper Dosu Joseph to take the lead. Recall that Dosu Joseph later experienced an unfortunate accident after the tournament. The accident puts a painful early end to the promising career of the Nigerian shot-stopper. Well, let’s get to the business of the day, Nigeria vs Brazil in the Olympic tournament.

Brazil ran riot on the Super Eagles and as early as in the second half, Brazil was leading Nigeria by three goals to one. The game looked like it was all but over for Nigerians who themselves thought nothing else could be done to salvage the situation. Nigeria coach for the tournament was Bon fre jo, a dutch tactician who would forever be remembered for his role in the tournament.

Bon fre jo made some tweaks to his approach to the game and in no time the tides turned and Nigeria began to grow confidence, taking the game to the Brazilians. The eagles kept attacking their South American opponents and before long, they scored a goal to make the score three two. The goal threw the Nigerian support team in the stadium to a frenzy mood. The supporters continued to drum and chant songs of support for the eagles. The game changed quickly and Nigeria soon became the attacking side with the Brazilian being on the back foot, trying to defend their lead. The game looked as if it was going to end with three two score line so the South American side looked forward of advancing to the final. But the during the dying minutes of the game, there was a twist of event, Nigeria launched one last attack with a defender finding Daniel Amokachi with a long pass. Amokachi was running goal-bound expecting to get the ball just before it gets to the Brazilian box, there were Brazilian markers too trying to stop him. During the run, the ball eventually hit Daniel Amokachi on his back given his high speed.

He miscalculated got to the spot before the ball. The ball hit his back and fell to the on rushing Kanu Nwankwo. Kanu Nwankwo became a household name for his exploit in that situation. As he got to the ball, he did as if he was going to shoot the ball with his right foot and dummied two Brazilian markers with what later became his trademark dribble (a dribble which is called 68 in Nigeria) cutting the ball to his weak left foot and finding the net with a delightful low shot that went past the Brazilian goalkeeper, the goal threw the stadium into an eruption as spectators and supporters of Nigeria celebrated the goal. The goal drew the score line to 3 – 3 with the game heading for a period of golden goal. The golden goal has since been scrapped from football but the period left some indelible experiences to football fans who were fortunate enough to witness the game. So the game got to golden goal period with Nigeria entering the period with full confidence while the Brazilians were scared of the worse. The Olympic tournament is the most-watched sporting events in the world and the Nigerian and Brazil match at Atlanta 96 would go down in history as one of the best matches at the Olympic tournaments


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