It will be a clash of champions and rivals. A repeat of the 1996 Olympic finals as Nigeria and Argentina meet again on Saturday at the magnificent and futuristic “Bird’s Nest” Stadium, Beijing, China, in the final match of the Beijing 2008 Olympics men’s soccer.
Argentina Tuesday beat arch rivals Brazil 3-0 to set up the final against Nigeria who humiliated Belgium 4-1 earlier in the day.
Brazil are again denied the opportunity of winning the only global laurel in men ‘s football that has eluded them for ages – the Olympic gold medal. They will have to contend for bronze, again, which they had won in 1996.
There could not have been a better final match than the Nigeria-Argentina clash. A clash of past champions and defending champions, with Argentina striving to be the first in recent history to win the Olympic gold, back-to-back and also seeking vengeance of the 3-2 defeat Nigeria meted to them in the 1996 Olympics finals.
Vengeance will certainly play itself out on Saturday.
Kicking Europe out
Earlier, the Nigerian team fought hard right from the kick-off of their semi final 4-1 victory over Belgium to assure themselves of a medal in the Olympics.
The score-line is the widest margin recorded in a semi-final game since Poland’s 6-1 defeat of Australia at the 92 Barcelona Olympics.
The Nigerians seem to be in the same position they found themselves 12 years ago when they won the gold in Atlanta, US.
Then in their march to the final, they scored four goals. That they did again Tuesday, this time, without raising blood pressure too high. In ’96, they raised the score-line from 3-1 to 4-3, beating Brazil in extra time. And again, as it was in 1996, they have South American opposition in Saturday’s final match.