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| Event type

Football, Men

Date20 July – 3 August 1996
StatusOlympic
LocationFlorida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida / Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama / Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida / Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, Washington, District of Columbia / Sanford Stadium, Athens, Georgia
Participants264 from 16 countries
FormatRound-robin pools advance teams to single-elimination tournament of eight teams.

Rules for eligibility were relaxed, as each team was now allowed to add three players older than 23 to their team. These players were not allowed to compete in the qualification matches, only in the final tournament. The pre-tournament favourites were Brazil, coached by national team manager Mario Zagallo. With star players like Ronaldo and Bebeto in attendance, the South Americans suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Japan in their first match, but the team recovered to reach the semi-finals. There, they met Nigeria, which had already lost to Brazil in the group stage. The Africans had a team composed of star players from several European leagues, and five had competed in the 1994 World Cup. But the “Super Eagles” trailed 3-1 at the interval.

Following an Ikpeba goal, a late shot by Nwankwo Kanu forced the match into overtime. For the first time the, golden goal rule was in force, meaning the first team to score in extra time would win the match. Kanu secured his role as man of the match by scoring just minutes into extra time. Nigeria encountered a second South American opponent in the final, Argentina. The match was somewhat overshadowed by blunders from the referee and his linesman. Argentina pulled ahead 2-1 from a rather undeserved spot kick, and the match decider two minutes before the final whistle was scored with three Nigerians in offside position. But this did not matter to the Nigerians, who celebrated Africa’s first Olympic gold medal in football.

In the years since the Atlanta Olympics many questions have been asked about the true ages of certain members of the Nigerian squad. Allegations that as many as half the team were overage, some by as many as ten years, have been made but none has been proved beyond doubt to be true.

PosNrTeamNOCWTLPts
1NigeriaNGR5011512–6Gold
2ArgentinaARG3211113–6Silver
3BrazilBRA4021216–8Bronze
4PortugalPOR22286–10
5FranceFRA21176–4
6SpainESP21175–7
7MexicoMEX12152–3
8GhanaGHA11246–8
9JapanJPN20164–4
10United StatesUSA11144–4
11Republic of KoreaKOR11142–2
12ItalyITA10234–5
13AustraliaAUS10234–6
14TunisiaTUN01211–5
15Kingdom of Saudi ArabiaKSA00302–5
16HungaryHUN00303–7

Preliminary Round (20 – 25 July 1996)

Group A (20 – 24 July 1996)

Round-robin pool.

PosNOCWTLPtsGoals
1ARG12055–3Q
2POR12054–2Q
3USA11144–4
4TUN01211–5

Match #1 20 Jul 15:00POR 2 – 0TUN
Match #2 20 Jul 19:30ARG 3 – 1USA
Match #3 22 Jul 19:30ARG 1 – 1POR
Match #4 22 Jul 19:30USA 2 – 0TUN
Match #5 1 24 Jul 19:30ARG 1 – 1TUN 2
Match #6 24 Jul 19:30POR 1 – 1USA

Group B (20 – 24 July 1996)

Round-robin pool.

PosNOCWTLPtsGoals
1FRA21075–2Q
2ESP21075–3Q
3AUS10234–6
4KSA00302–5

Match #1 20 Jul 18:30FRA 2 – 0AUS
Match #2 20 Jul 18:30ESP 1 – 0KSA
Match #3 22 Jul 19:00AUS 2 – 1KSA
Match #4 22 Jul 19:00ESP 1 – 1FRA
Match #5 24 Jul 19:00FRA 2 – 1KSA
Match #6 24 Jul 19:00ESP 3 – 2AUS

Group C (21 – 25 July 1996)

Round-robin pool.

PosNOCWTLPtsGoals
1MEX12052–1Q
2GHA11144–4Q
3KOR11142–2
4ITA10234–5

Match #1 21 Jul 17:00MEX 1 – 0ITA
Match #2 21 Jul 17:30KOR 1 – 0GHA
Match #3 23 Jul 20:00KOR 0 – 0MEX
Match #4 23 Jul 21:00GHA 3 – 2ITA
Match #5 25 Jul 21:00ITA 2 – 1KOR
Match #6 25 Jul 21:00GHA 1 – 1MEX

Group D (21 – 25 July 1996)

Round-robin pool.

PosNOCWTLPtsGoals
1BRA20164–2Q
2NGR20163–1Q
3JPN20164–4
4HUN00303–7

Match #1 21 Jul 18:30NGR 1 – 0HUN
Match #2 21 Jul 18:30JPN 1 – 0BRA
Match #3 23 Jul 20:30NGR 2 – 0JPN
Match #4 23 Jul 20:30BRA 3 – 1HUN
Match #5 25 Jul 21:00JPN 3 – 2HUN
Match #6 25 Jul 21:00BRA 1 – 0NGR

Quarter-Finals (27 – 28 July 1996)

Single-elimination.

Match #1 27 Jul 18:00POR 2 – 1
ASDET
FRA
Match #2 27 Jul 19:30ARG 4 – 0ESP
Match #3 28 Jul 16:00NGR 2 – 0MEX
Match #4 28 Jul 18:00BRA 4 – 2GHA

Semi-Finals (30 – 31 July 1996)

Single-elimination.

Match #1 30 Jul 18:00ARG 2 – 0POR
Match #2 31 Jul 18:00NGR 4 – 3
ASDET
BRA

Final Round (2 – 3 August 1996)

Medal round.

Match 1/2 03 Aug 15:45NGR 3 – 2ARG
Match 3/4 02 Aug 18:00BRA 5 – 0POR

Rankings

Goals
Shots
Shots on Goal
Fouls Committed
Yellow Cards
Red Cards