A Nigéria campeã olímpica

Vinte anos do primeiro ouro olímpico de uma seleção africana

Conquistar uma medalha de ouro nos jogos olímpicos é um feito de enorme dificuldade para qualquer atleta de qualquer esporte. O torneio de futebol não é diferente, várias seleções tradicionais de futebol ainda não tiveram esse gosto.

O futebol africano sempre teve ótimos jogadores, atletas que conseguem aliar força física com técnica, porém ainda não tinham certa relevância no futebol mundial, até as olimpíadas de 1996, em Atlanta.

A seleção nigeriana chegava aos jogos capitaneada por Kanu, o jovem atacante de 20 anos chegava aos jogos com a bagagem de ter conquistado a Champions League pelo Ajax um ano antes. Caíram num grupo com Brasil, Hungria e Japão, a primeira fase já demonstrava que seria duro para classificar.

3 Jun 1996: Nigeria Captain Nwankwo Kanu is carried by team mates after their victory in the Mens Football Final over Argentina at the Olympic Stadium during the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Nigeria won the match 3-2. Mandatory Credit: David Cannon /Allsport

A primeira partida marcou a estrela do capitão da equipe, Kanu marcou o gol da vitória dos nigerianos frente ao forte time Hungaro, começava ali a caminhada rumo ao ouro.

No segundo jogo mais uma vitória, Babangida e Okocha marcaram os gols do triunfo diante do Japão, o dois a zero praticamente selava a vaga dos africanos para as quartas de final da competição.

O terceiro e último jogo da fase de grupos era contra o Brasil, um dos favoritos a conquista do título e recheado de craques no elenco olímpico, o tetra campeão Bebeto liderava o time que ainda contava com nomes como: Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Sávio e Ronaldo. O Brasil venceu a partida por um a zero, gol do “fenômeno”, mas a Nigéria conseguiu a classificação pelo saldo de gol. As quartas de final era o próximo desafio nigeriano.

Jogos Olímpicos de Atlanta 1996: Futebol: Nigéria 4x3 Brasil: jogador da Nigéria comemora o quarto gol de sua equipe, feito na prorrogação com morte súbita, que garantiu a classificação para a disputa da medalha de ouro.*** NÃO UTILIZAR SEM ANTES CHECAR CRÉDITO E LEGENDA*** (Crédito: Jorge Araújo/Folhapress)

Era a primeira vez que a Nigéria ficava entre os oito melhores do torneio, o bom time do México não aguentou a qualidade técnica dos africanos, Babayaro e Okocha fizeram os gols do dois a zero pra cima dos mexicanos e garantiram o time nas semi finais, a bola da vez agora era de novo o forte Brasil.

Mais uma vez o Brasil abre o placar no confronto contra os africanos, Flávio Conceição bate falta e marca o primeiro dos brasileiros, na sequência Roberto Carlos tenta fazer o corte e mete contra a própria meta, o um a um parecia ser o resultado do primeiro, mas Bebeto e novamente Flávio Conceição colocam o Brasil à frente do placar. Restavam 45 minutos para os nigerianos buscarem a virada, e só no final do segundo tempo o time conseguiu. Ikpeba manteve as chama nigeriano acessa e Kanu, no último suspiro da equipe, conseguiu levar a partida para a morte súbita.

Veio a prorrogação, os nigerianos tinham mais gás que os brasileiros e logo aos 4 minutos de jogo Kanu colocou o brilho do ouro olímpico mais perto de seu povo, o “gol de ouro” valeu a vaga pela medalha dourado e um marco na história da seleção africana.

Na final mais um sulamericano pela frente. A Argentina de Daniel Passarela tinha como estrelas o jovem Crespo e Cláudio Lopez, Zanetti e Ortega também integravam aquele time portenho.

Claudio “piojo” Lopez abriu o placar para os argentinos, Babayaro conseguiu o empate ainda na primeira etapa. No segundo tempo Hernan Crespo marcou seu sexto no campeonato e colocou os hermanos mais uma vez à frente do placar. De novo os nigerianos tinham que buscar forças para reverter o resultado. Amokachi mostrou a força de superação da equipe e empatou a partida, o time cresceu e o gol da virada era questão de tempo, e a virada veio aos 45 minutos do segundo tempo, Amuneke aproveitou um cochilo da zaga argentina e fez o gol do ouro nigeriano. Os EUA foram tomados pela alegria africana, o mundo viu o esplendor da glória dos “filhos da África”.

O holandês Johannes-Franciscus Bonfrere, ou simplesmente Jo Bonfrere era o treinador daquele time e foi o arquiteto naquele triunfo histórico, até hoje é aclamado e idolatrado pelos nigerianos.

1996 Olympic Games, Atlanta, USA, Sanford Stadium, Georgia, Men's Football, Gold Medal Match, Nigeria 3 v Argentina 2, Nigerian players and coach Jo Bonfrere celebrate their gold medal win (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

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