Guest Blog by Sola Rogers
The Nigerian Men’s national football team were initially nicknamed the Red Devils until Veteran Journalist and Sports administrator Peter Osugo made a case for the name of the team to be changed to the Green Eagles in the early sixties.
A quick look at Nigeria’s “coat of arms” and flag would reveal were the inspiration for the naming of the Mens football team and some other sports teams derived their names from.
The Green in the team’s name was taken from the Nigerian National Flag
While the Eagle in their name was taken from the “coat of arms”. a couple of other Nigerians teams have taken this same route. The Nigerian Rugby national team are called the “Black Stallions”.
The “Green Eagles” eventually became known as the “Super Eagles” after another successful outing by the team.
The advent of Age grade competitions and Women’s football meant that national teams were created and they also had to be named like the existing teams. In Nigeria the Under 20 men’s team was nicknamed the “Flying Eagles” (all eagles fly though). Then came the Eaglets in 1985 who were renamed the “Golden Eaglets” after their inaugural campaign in China saw them winning gold at the FIFA U16 World Championship.
The Nigerian Women Senior national team are known as the Falcons, while their Under 20 counterparts are known as the Falconets, the Under 17 Women’s team are called the Flamingos.
But the main focus of this writer is the Nigerian national under 23 men’s team popularly addressed as the “Dreamteam” the current crop of the young nigerian footballers are now being called “Dreamtean 6” and this is nothing but laughable.
The Nigerian Under 23 team was first called the “Dreamteam” during the build up to the Atlanta 96 Olympic games were an all-star squad was assembled to represent Nigeria at the football event of the Olympic games.
The Original Dream Team
The moniker “Dreamteam” was “borrowed” from the AllStar basketball team that represented the USA at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, and this was truly a “Dreamteam” both on and off the court.
A team that had Charles Barkley of the Phoenix Suns, Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers, Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz, Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics, Scottie Pippen of the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls, just to name a few, No one could ever argue with the fact that this was truly a “Dreamteam” by all standards.
The Nigerian “Dreamteam”
This team had a blend of Nigeria’s Super Eagles and some extremely talented footballers all assembled together from different teams at home and abroad.
Joseph Dosu (Julius Berger fc) and Emmanuel Babayaro of Plateau United coincidental were the only “homebased” players in the team, all the other outfield players were based in various parts of the world, Sunday Oliseh played for Fc Köln in Germany, Austin Jay-Jay Okocha played for Eintracht Frankfurt also Germany the team Everton of England Striker Daniel Amokachi, Kanu Nwankwo was with Ajax Amsterdam. Emmanuel Amuneke was then with Sporting CP in Portugal. The “Dreamteam” also had Victor Ikpeba of AS Monaco in France.
The Presence of the Above listed players and others not listed earned the team the Moniker “Dreamteam” we have decided to had the full team list below for emphasis:
1 GK Emmanuel Babayaro Plateau United
2 DF Celestine Babayaro Anderlecht
3 DF Taribo West Auxerre
4 FW Nwankwo Kanu Ajax
5 DF Uche Okechukwu Fenerbahçe
6 MF Emmanuel Amuneke Sporting CP
7 MF Tijani Babangida Roda
8 MF Wilson Oruma Lens
9 MF Teslim Fatusi Ferencváros
10 MF Jay-Jay Okocha Eintracht Frankfurt
11 FW Victor Ikpeba AS Monaco
12 DF Abiodun Obafemi Toulouse
13 FW Garba Lawal Espérance
14 FW Daniel Amokachi Everton
15 MF Sunday Oliseh Köln
16 DF Kingsley Obiekwu Go Ahead Eagles
17 DF Mobi Oparaku Anderlecht
18 GK Dosu Joseph Julius Berger
This team indeed lived up to all the hype surrounding it and went on to win the elusive football gold medal for Nigeria at the Atlanta Olympic games in 1996, claiming the scalps of major football powerhouses Argentina and Brazil.
This writer believes that without a doubt this was the true “Dreamteam” and the team’s achievements justified this, But truly this is where the Football federation should have created a proper identity for this team, but eighteen years down the line Football commentators, analyst, and even the fans are stuck with the dilemma of renaming the Nigeria U23 team “Dreamteam 6” (which means that there’s been six different “Dreamteams”).
Its time for the NFF to name the Nigerian Under 23 properly, enough of this Dreamteam business, Most of the players in the current Under23 team and even the teams that came after the Atlanta 96 team have been made up of virtually unknown players so what makes it a “Dreamteam” ?
Are we going to continue adding numbers to the so called “Dreamteam” every time a new team is put together?
DreamTeam? No, Its Time For The NFF To Rename This Team
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