Africa’s dream of winning a FIFA World Cup or FIFA Confederation’s cup is yet to be realized. But Nigeria took the bold step on August 3, 1996 to win Africa’s first ever Olympic gold medal in football.
It was a memorable day for Nigerians and Africa as a whole. Kanu Nwankwo who just finished winning the UCL with Ajax in 1995 captained a blend of golden generation to beat Argentina in the final of the men’s football event.
Nigeria’s victory in the final against Argentina was never in doubt. They had condemned a star-studded Brazil side in the semifinal to book a place in the final.
Argentina took the lead on two occasions, but an ambitious Nigerian side leveled up twice. Before Amuneke’s left-footed goal in the 74th minutes beat an offside trap set by the Argentine defense to give Nigeria the winning goal.
It was Nigeria’s second Olympic gold, after Chioma Ajunwa had earlier won the first a few hours ago in long-jump.
Nigeria’s victory at Atlanta 1996 also opened door for another African side. Four years later at Sydney 2000 Olympics, Cameroon became the second African side to win the Olympic football men.