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Complete Football Edition 1

  • Text
  • Nigeria
  • Medal
  • August
  • Nigerian
  • Brazil
  • Atlanta
  • Olympic
  • Olympics
  • African
  • Eagles

and he looked at me as

and he looked at me as if to say 'hey, if you'd not been suspended, those goals wouldn't have gone in.' Garba Lawal was playing in an unfamiliar role and against such an opposition as Brazil so we have to give him credit for his efforts. After the initial jitters, he grew into the game and I think he was fantastic. 12 hat are your Wrecollections of Atlanta '96 on the way to winning the gold medal? Atlanta '96 was extremely difficult, both on and off the pitch. Looking at it now, it was even more stressful off the pitch because of the many distractions that we had, mainly about a lack of finance. It was so much chaos and it was at Atlanta that I started having a second thought about our football and its administrators. How do you mean? We went to a competition and there was no money to take care of the basic needs of the players such as accommodation and transportation. It was so bad that I and a couple of other guys had to drop our credit cards in order to rent mini-vans to take us to and from training sessions. You can confirm from some of the other guys who were there. The team was left to practically fend for itself in such a major competition. Who does that? There were so many sacrifices that each player made in order to ensure that we emerged victorious. At the end of the day, it was the most satisfying medal of my career. You missed the semi-final cracker against Brazil? Yea, I missed out on the crucial semi-final against Brazil because of a red-card I'd bagged in the previous round against Mexico and, while we were trailing 3-1, coach Bonfrere Jo was staring at me in anger on the bench, silently accusing me as if I was responsible for the score-line. Why did he do that and did you feel responsible for the result at that point? In a way, he was right because he didn't only take me as one of the leading players in the team, he also regarded me as a sort of assistant coach, sometimes discussing tactics with me. So he was angry because the first two goals we conceded were through the defensive midfield position COMPLETE FOOTBALL How were you feeling sitting on the bench? Sitting on the bench and watching the team playing and losing was horrible for all of us, not me alone because it was a team thing. However, the turning point on the day was Wilson Oruma. His introduction changed the tempo and complexion of the game. He was a monster as he chased every ball and refused to back down even against the more physically imposing Brazilian defenders. Without any disrespect to you teammates, do you think if you'd been on the pitch the game could have been a bit easier for Nigeria? With the benefit of hindsight, if I'd played that semi-final I would have missed the final because I was already on a yellow card and there was no way I was going to play that game against Brazil without getting at least a yellow. So, like I've been saying since 1996, God knew what He was doing because he raised other people in my place and reserved me for the final. All in all, Atlanta '96 was a chance of a lifetime and I'm happy and grateful to be a part of it all. CELEBRATION OF 2years ATLANTA GOLD MEDAL 1996 – 2016 Oliseh spoke with Johnny Edward BONFRERE HELD ME RESPONSIBLE FOR BRAZIL MATCH –OLISEH

20 years ago, you and your teammates climbed the podium to collect Africa's first-ever Olympic gold medal which remains Nigeria's highest achievement in football. First, let me ask you, where is your gold medal? DOSU: Old boy, I don melt the thing o. I don turn am to cool cash (general laughter). Seriously speaking, I have it in the bank. It is so precious I have kept it somewhere safe. So, what does Atlanta '96 gold mean to Dosu Joseph? It was an achievement that nobody will ever forget. It was an achievement that made Nigerians, indeed Africans, to raise their heads in pride. It is also an achievement that our children, even the unborn ones will remember for generations to come. Anytime my son comes home and there's talk about the Olympics, he's always proud of himself, let alone me that was an active participant. It is a legacy for us all and it's something to be proud off. It's hard to believe it's already 20 years since that historic day. How time flies. I would have wished that subsequent Nigerian Olympic teams had matched our records so that the focus will not be on the class of 1996 alone each time we talk about Olympic football. All said and done, it opened a lot of doors for most of us and we cannot stop expressing gratitude to God for the honour and priviledge to have been selected into that team at the time. How were you guys able to pull it off, to do what no African team had done before in history? Winning the Olympics was destiny, not our making. A lot of things went wrong, a lot more could have gone wrong but in spite of it all, we were able to overcome. So, if you ask me, I think it was pre-ordained to happen that way. Going to the Olympics alone is an achievement. Winning a medal, whether gold, silver or bronze is extra special and means you've done well for yourself but the honour of attending is in itself indescribable. How was the journey to the gold medal for you? Winning gold was not easy. I remember when we were leaving we lost to Togo in a friendly game and the whole country was in an uproar that we were not ready for the competition. The authorities insisted that we should play another friendly and we faced 3SC, one of the strongest teams in the Nigerian league at the time who were also campaigning in the CAF Champions Cup. We beat them 2-1 and the media tagged us as 'dreamers', not 'Dream Team.' We won gold and subsequent teams have been labelled Dream Teams II, III, IV and so on since then. I'm happy CELEBRATION OF 2years ATLANTA GOLD MEDAL DOSU: WINNING ATLANTA GOLD WAS BY DESTINY 1996 – 2016 that my name is written in gold in Nigerian football and, forever until the end of time, Nigerians will always remember that in the year 1996, a group of young men went to the Olympics in the USA and brought home the gold medal. Very few Nigerians can claim to be an Olympic gold medalist. How would you say the gold medal affected your career afterwards? Well, I had a very short career but for the six or seven years that I played football I was very blessed by God. I won the Nigerian league and FA Cup, put on the green and white of Nigeria, played AFCON and World Cup qualifiers and helped Nigeria to qualify for France 1998 World Cup, and also played professionally in Europe. It was a short career but I achieved a lot and I've so many things to be grateful to God for. Dosu spoke with Babatunde Koiki COMPLETE FOOTBALL 13

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