How Many Games Are In The World Cup Qualifiers The Amazing Story of the Nigeria Olympic Dream Team

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The Amazing Story of the Nigeria Olympic Dream Team

The Dream team was coached by Dutchman Johannes Bonfrere and started their path to the final with a 1-0 win over Hungary and a 2-0 win over Japan before completing 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 incredible games.

Losing in the semi-final to a formidable Brazilian team that boasted Bebeto, Ronaldo and Rivaldo, 3-1, Nigeria finally woke up in the 78th minute as Victor Ikpeba scored from 20 meters out. As time ran out, the inspirational Captain Nwankwo Kanu took center stage, scoring in a scramble in front of goal in the last minute to equalise. With added time barely three minutes out, Kanu fired home the game-winner from 16 meters to complete one of the greatest results in international football history in what many observers felt was the greatest Olympic football match of all time .

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

The Argentines held a 2-1 advantage on goals from Claudio Lopez who scored through a well taken header in the third minute and Hernan Crespo in the 50th minute of play with a penalty. The resilient Dream one team came back strongly in the game and equalized in the 74th minute of play when striker Daniel Amokachi scrambled in the decisive goal. With a minute remaining, senior substitute Emmanuel Amuneke scored the winning goal to give Nigeria a famous 3-2 victory.

It was a very important day in the history of Nigerian football, as the international football community celebrated a rare feat by an African team.

Dream Team Two

With the achievement of Dream Team I in Atlanta 1996, the pressure was on Dream team two to perform up to expectations in the Olympic Games held in 2000 in the beautiful city of Sydney in Australia.

The team did not lack quality players, as they had in their fold: Victor Agali, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Garba Lawal and Celestine Babayaro, but unfortunately, they were knocked out in the quarter-finals. In their first match, the Dream two team scored 3-3 against Honduras, before defeating Australia 3-2 in their second match. A 1-1 draw with Italy set up a fascinating quarter-final with Chile. It was a game that exposed the inadequacy of the Dream two side, as they were humbled 4-1 by an inspired Chile side.

The Three Dreams of the Nigerian Dream Team Don’t Last Forever

The dream died in 2004, when the Nigerian Olympic football team then known as: The Dream team three, could not scale through the African qualifiers. Tunisia qualified for Athens 2004 at the expense of three-team Nigeria Dream with an embarrassing 2-0 defeat of Nigeria in the last group game in Tunis. The team that also represented the country in the 8th All African Games hosted by Nigeria fought their way to the finals of the football event, only to lose to Cameroon 2-0, at the ultra modern Abuja National stadium.

Dream Team Four – The Rebirth of the Nigerian Olympic Team

The dream was rekindled in 2008, when a group of talented footballers who were the offspring of the under-20 team that took the silver medals at the World Youth Championship in the Netherlands in 2005 attacked Beijing for the football tournament Olympic foot. Coach Samson Siasia, one of the best youth coaches in Nigeria, led them to the Olympics. Paired alongside heavyweights the Netherlands, Japan and the United States in group B, the Dream Four kicked off their Olympic football campaign with a fruitless 0-0 draw with the Netherlands, before bouncing back back to record a morale boost to a 2-1 victory. Japan. They confirmed their superiority in the group with another 2-1 win over the United States. Ivory Coast fell on the road to coach Samson Siasia who was being coached for the team in the quarter-finals, as they lost 2-0.

The semi-final matchup saw the best performance from the Dream Four team, as they ran riot against a hapless Belgium side who desperately tried to stop the rampaging Nigerians. The match ended 4-1 in favor of Nigeria, and the die was cast once again for an exciting match between Nigeria and arch rival Argentina. It was a repeat of the 2005 U-20 World Cup held in the Netherlands, as the main actors were still around on both sides. Revenge was what the Nigerians were singing about, and they had Lionel Messi to contend with in their bid to win Olympic Football Gold for the second time since 1996. It was a close game decided by a solitary goal scored in the 58th minute. played by Angel Di Maria from Argentina. The Dream Four team had to play second fiddle to an experienced Argentinian team once again, as they lost the epic match 1-0.

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