In sports, a dream team is an assembly of talents that will dominate and win games. It is not necessarily about the market value of the players but how the players use their individual talents to make a formidable team. Over the years there has been some dream teams in football: football teams that were assembled and went on to dominate an era. But not every dream team has actually been tagged a “dream team” before their success.
In fact, most dream teams are given the name only after they have gained success. But there is one dream team that had the label even before they achieved success: the Nigerian 1996 Olympic Gold winning team. That team gave Nigerians their greatest football moment in history. That is a big deal when you consider the fact that Nigeria is a huge football nation. Some of the craziest and most passionate football fans are found in Nigeria. Though a show of shame, the reactions by fans after Nigeria lost the World Cup ticket to Ghana is a highlight of how the fans love football.
Most of those fans can still remember 1996 Olympics. And for those who didn’t witness live, we did on behalf of you. That team indeed was a dream team. Imagine having some of the greatest footballers Africa has ever seen in their youthful and energetic prime in an era Nigerians were dominating in the Award for the Best Player in Africa. I’m talking about Amokachi the Bull, the mesmerizing Okocha who was so good they named him twice: Jay Jay, Oliseh the warrior, Taribo West who Thierry Henry opined was the best man-marker in their generation. We’re talking about Dosu in goal, Uche Okechukwu, Garba Lawal, Babangida and the trio that all won Africa’s Player of the year: Victor Ikpeba, Emmanuel Amunike and the captain fantastic, Nwankwo Kanu who made Atlanta the perfect stage to announce his arrival on the big stage.
Brazil won but the Dream Team would later win when it mattered the most. Nigeria defeated Mexico in the quarter finals even with the presence of the legendary Jorge Campos, one of my childhood heroes, in the post. Things got spicy in the semi finals when Nigeria squared up against Brazil. Anyone that knows anything about football knows that Brazil goes into every match as the favourites, especially in a time they had the Ronaldo the phenomenon, Bebeto and Roberto Carlos just to mention a few. At some point, Brazil were leading 3-1. I was sure that was game over. Brazil were the reigning world champions then and the only trophy lacking in their football museum was the Olympic Gold. There was no way they would blow the lead. In fact, they started toying with the Nigerian team. The type of thing Guardiola’s Barca did.
But the Dream Team was indeed a dream team and executed things we only dream of. Victor Ikpeba made it 3-2 and suddenly hope was rekindled in our hearts. We dared to believe. We dared to imagine we can equalize again and at least take the game to extra time and penalties. But Papilo (Kanu) had other ideas. He equalized before scoring the golden goal to hand Nigeria the win. If that was the only thing Kanu did in his career, it would have been enough to make him a legend, but he went on to win the UEFA Champions League, a couple of league titles and of course the CAF African Player of the Year three times.
The final was against Argentina, another football powerhouse from South America (the country that produced Maradona and now Messi). Although none of the two names mentioned were in that team, they still boasted of stars like Roberto Ayala in defence, Javier Zanetti who almost played football at the top forever, Crespo the goal machine and Ortega the maestro and magician. Lopez gave Argentina the lead early in the game, Babayaro equalized for Nigeria. Crespo restored Argentina’s lead from the spot. Amokachi equalized before Amunike grabbed the winner at the final minutes of the match. It was like a dream. The Dream Team made our dreams become realities.
That is the type of dream team that has been set up at PRODA. Success has been inevitable. Despite the big names in the wristwatch space like Brazil and Argentina, PRODA has been making strides with their hardwork and dedication. People wonder what makes PRODA different. The answer is simple. We assembled talented individuals with a team spirit to work and make life beautiful for the customers. We assembled a DREAM TEAM.