This is the untold story of Atlanta ’96. Kanu Nwankwo, Victor Ikpeba, Daniel Amokachi, Garuba Lawal, Teslim Fatusi, Dosu Joseph, Austin Okocha, Emmanuel Amuneke, and the rest of the Nigerian Olympics dream team brought tears of joy from our eyes across Africa 15 years ago; a documentary featuring the stars themselves as they tell their own story recounting the secrets to their remarkable success.
August 3rd 1996 became one of the most glorious days in the history of Africa. In far away Atlanta Georgia in the United States of America, Nigeria with a group of young men nicknamed “The Dream Team” shocked the world and made history by becoming the first African and first non European or South American country to win the Olympic Gold in the Men’s football tournament.
The most extraordinary match and the defining moment in their journey to victory and perhaps one of the most memorable moments in world football history was the July 31 semi-final amatch between that Nigerian team of underdogs and the Brazilian team of established world stars – a match in which led by Kanu Nwankwo they came back from a losing position to beat almighty Brazil during the longest 94 minutes of our lives.
As young boys and girls in our teenage years, fresh out of secondary school, fresh out of the university we saw real life the redefinition of determination and tenacity; as parents raising families and building homes, we saw the joy of allowing a child to choose his path in life as indeed “men’s talents make way for them”; as a nation we saw unity beyond religious, ethnic, political or gender barriers. We relive those emotions and highlight the life skills secretly taught in the players’ dressing room that night with which they survived and overcame the Brazilian onslaught.
The film looks at the world’s predictions, the mind games of Bebeto, the fear of Ronaldo, the brick-wall called Roberto Carlos and Aldair; from the kick-off to the final whistle, our stars reminisce on the battle of their lives, the nerves, their fears, the toughness of Daniel Amokachi, the calmness of Uche Okechukwu, the tenacity of Sunday Oliseh, the golden goals of Kanu, the dance of the Babayaro brothers, the tears of Dosu Joseph, their unity and team work, their victory, their brotherhood. We celebrate our legends and document our history for the new generation.
The famous semi-final match and second comeback victory against Argentina in the final match to lift the title remains the biggest achievement recorded by Nigeria in its football history and it also inspired the Cameroonian team starring Samuel Eto’o Fills and his colleagues as they went on to also hit gold at the next Olympics in Sydney 2000.
Fight back at Atlantais an emotional comparison of the game of football with the game of life; it is indeed not over until it is over. On August 3 2011, it will be 15 years that the lesson notes were written, signed, sealed and delivered by the Dream Team I of 1996 and it is time to open it and teach it to African youths especially those who were not born and those who forget their heroes too quickly.
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