In his memoir of the journey of Nigeria’s Dream Team, foremost sports journalist Mumini Alao detailed on the challenges faced by the team before, during and after the success of Atlanta 96’ Olympics
Nigeria shocked the world to Olympic football gold medal at the Atlanta 96’ Olympics.
Coming on the back of the Super Eagles’ success at the Tunisia 94 AFCON and the team’s good showing at the World Cup that year, Nigeria returned to the United States two years later to shock the world.
The triumph of that time is still celebrated till now but according to Alao’s book, “The Making of Nigeria’s Dream Team”, that success didn’t come on a platter of gold.
The administrative bottlenecks that are still observable in Nigerian football till now were also reported in 1996 as players had to sacrifice their money, time and other things to achieve an immense global feat.
Alao in the book wrote; “With the benefit of hindsight, Tallahassee is considered as the place where the foundation for the Olympic triumph was firmly established.
“There was no journalist in camp to report on their daily activities first hand to Nigerians. But some of the players shared with me some of the unprecedented experiences that they had in Tallahassee when when I joined the team in Orlando on the eve of their opening game against Hungary.
“Due to a shortage of funds at the start, Victor Ikpeba, Austin Okocha and Sunday Oliseh had to tender their credit cards to hire minibusses that took the team to training and also had to double as their bus drivers. And because the modest Ramada Hotel where they stayed would not handle their laundry, the players had to wash their training gears after every session, ” Alao wrote.
The players however found motivation in their challenges and went on to achieve what’s till today one of the biggest football triumphs in Nigeria’s history.
The Dream Team defeated Brazil and Argentina on their way to the Olympic gold medal.