Olympic-winning Nigeria defender Taribo West in an interview with the BBC, recalls how the great set of Nigeria’s U-23 team made their way into the history books by coming off as underdogs and defeating indomitable-looking Argentina and Brazil to win gold at USA 96 Olympics.
“Before the Olympics, we were well prepared in the USA. We were not distracted by the usual things we encounter back home in Nigeria, where family and friends can come and visit us in camp,” he remembers.
“We were in a very remote place and we were very focused on the task at hand. Jo Bonfrere’s preparation of the team was excellent.”
Speaking on the semi-final game against Brazil, West added:
“We knew that in the first half of that game, we had played very poorly. But the key to our comeback in the second half was our extraordinary determination.
“The voice of the leaders came up in the dressing room. We won that match in the dressing room. Fortunately, we had Daniel Amokachi, Sunday Oliseh and Uche Okechukwu. It was a big advantage for us.”
On the final match against Argentina, Taribo West who is currently a Lagos-based pastor after giving his life to Christ narrated:
“There was something in our spirit that made us realise that we going to win, although we didn’t know how,” West recalls.
“As soon as Argentina got the first goal, we were not discouraged. Amunike was able to give us the winning strike.
“When [Italian referee Pierluigi] Collina blew that whistle, I just collapsed on the field and knew my dream had come true.
“My [gold] medal in is the bank overseas. It is something to show to my children.”