1996 Dream Team feature in novel
8/16/2016 10:32:47 PM

The Nigeria Under-23 national team of 1996 have been featured in a graphic novel to depict the story of the 1996 edition of the Olympic Games held in Atlanta.

The graphic novel titled 'Nigerian Golden Legends: An unforgettable Olympic Adventure' is a 40-page book that gives a pictorial story of Team Nigeria including the feat of the Dream Team of becoming the first African team to win the men's Olympic football gold medal.

The book, also available online, tells a story of Nigeria before the craze for the Internet, ATM machines and mobile telephones under military governance that had economic and political challenges at the time, but found joy in the unforgettable performance of their sportsmen, especially the feat of the Dream Team and policewoman Chioma Ajunwa.

The comic also captured how the Dream Team got booed in Lagos after losing their last warm-up game to Togo just before they left for the Olympics in Atlanta and gave newspaper reviews of attempt by the then Nigeria Football Association (NFA), now Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), to change the coaching setup.

One of the stars in that Nigeria under-23s in 1996, Daniel Amokachi, did buttress that there were plans to "lay off" the head coach then, Jo Bonfrere, a situation which the players rejected following their 1-3 loss to Togo in a friendly game at the National Stadium in Lagos.

Dream Team at Atlanta 96 © Getty Images.

“The love that we had for each other made it possible because we were one strong family. I remember when the (Nigerian) FA were unhappy with Jo Bonfrere and they decided to bring in another coach and lay him off just a couple of days before the Olympics.

"We were already in America and as a team we said: ‘If you’re sending him away, then you’ll need to find new players.’ That spirit alone showed and made us believe that we were all in this together and that it would make us into champion,” Amokachi, now head coach with Finnish outfit, JS Hercules, told Fifa.com earlier this month.

However, a UK-based organisation, Community Sport and Educational Development, says the book is being published to "celebrate our sports legends considering their performance in 1996 as well as the positive impact and goodwill that Nigeria and Nigerians benefitted from the international community."

"It's a special time to celebrate our sports legends considering their performance in 1996, as well as the positive impact and goodwill that Nigeria and Nigerians benefitted from the international community, after the feat of Team Nigeria 1996.

"Today, we talk about the Dream Team because some Nigerians went to Atlanta and did the unthinkable.

“The novel also showcases efforts of other Team Nigeria athletes who excelled at the Atlanta Games,” Community Sport and Educational Development (CSED) project manager Cornelius Ehimiaghe said.

The cover of the book, with an all-picture illustration made by Akinboye Sunkanmi, features Nwankwo Kanu, Emmanuel Amuneke, Dosu Joseph and Austin Okocha from the 1996 Dream Team as well as long jump gold medallist, Ajunwa.