Ikpeba Speaks on 1996 Olympics Games Day: “God Was Nigerian”

Former Super Eagles forward Victor Ikpeba believes that divine intervention played a significant role in Nigeria’s historic gold medal win at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Ikpeba, who was part of the legendary Nigerian squad, shared his thoughts on their remarkable journey to Olympic glory in an interview.

Nigeria’s path to gold was laden with challenges, but Ikpeba recalls pivotal moments that solidified his belief in their eventual triumph. One such moment came during the semifinal clash against football powerhouse Brazil.

Despite being considered underdogs, Nigeria staged a remarkable comeback from a 3-1 deficit to secure a thrilling 4-3 victory in extra time. Ikpeba attributes this extraordinary turnaround to divine favor, referring to the prevailing sentiment that “God was Nigerian that day.”

Reflecting on his Olympic experience, Ikpeba expressed profound joy and pride in representing Nigeria on the world stage. He highlighted the significance of defeating formidable opponents such as Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina en route to the gold medal. For Ikpeba, the 1996 Olympics symbolized the potential of African football and remains an unforgettable chapter in his career.

“During our semi-final against Brazil. It may seem like it does not make sense because on paper, we were not the favourites.

“It was that golden generation with the likes of Bebeto, Roberto Carlos, and Rivaldo. In addition, we had lost against them a few days earlier in a group match.

“But, God was Nigerian that day (laughs).

“We trailed 3-1, then equalized 3-3 to win in 4-3 in extra-time. We are qualified for the final stage. And as they say, a final is not played, it is won.”

“Joy, I was so happy to participate,” he added.

“Pride too when I remember the teams that we beat, Mexico in the quarter-final, Brazil in the semi-final, then Argentina in the final.

“We Africans have shown that this is possible. It’s a tournament that I will never be able to forget.”

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