roberto ayala

Roberto Ayala: 1996 Nigeria Olympic Team Best Ever

Former Argentina defensive great, Roberto Ayala, has described the U-23 Eagles dubbed 'Dream Team' at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics as Nigeria's best ever football team, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.

Ayala, was in action for a star-studded Argentine side that also had Ariel Ortega, Diego Simeone, Hernan Crespo and Claudio Lopez, who lost 3-2 to Nigeria in the final of the 1996 Olympics men's football event.

The 43-year-old former Valencia, River Plate and AC Milan defender told FIFA.com what cost them against Nigeria in the final.

"We lost in the very last minute, trying to play the offside trap, which we got a lot of criticism for,” recalled Ayala. 

“The thing is, we’d prepared that very routine for key phases and it was the perfect time to use it.

“The only problem was, a team-mate played them onside. We took the risk and paid for it. 

"That said, that Nigeria team was the best they ever had. We didn’t lose to any old team. It was frustrating for us at the time, but we’ve realised that the medal (silver) and the experience were really valuable.”

Looking ahead to this year's games in Rio, Ayala who went on to win the gold in Athen 2004 Olympics, tipped Argentina  as genuine candidates for the gold. 

“The coach had a few problems getting a team together because of injury and a few players who couldn’t go, but if you look at the squad man for man, you can see that it’s got huge potential.”

“They’ve got every chance of being in the fight for the medals. Argentina have got a lot of quality and a coach who has a very clear idea of things, who really knows how to get his message across. 

"The players seem to be really up for it because they know they can go down in the history of Argentinian football.”

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