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Men’s Olympic Football Tournament


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  • Atlanta 1996 was the Centennial Olympics
  • Argentina, Brazil, France, Italy and Spain sent star-stacked squads
  • On this day in 1996 Nigeria emerged as the surprise champions

“Winning Olympic gold is the ultimate goal for any athlete,” said Kurt Angle. “So can you imagine how badly everyone wanted gold at the Centennial Olympics?”

The future WWE megastar overcame the tragic murder of his coach Dave Schultz in January 1996, not having a fixed training facility for a period, and fracturing two cervical vertebrae, herniating two discs, and pulling four muscles at the US Olympic trails to conquer heavyweight gold in freestyle wrestling and complete a career Grand Slam.

Andre Agassi, Michael Johnson, Wladimir Klitschko and Muhammad Ali also seized Olympic golds at Atlanta 1996 – the latter, who had lost the one he won as Cassius Clay at Rome 1960, was moved as he was presented with one during half-time of USA’s annihilation of Yugoslavia in the men’s basketball final.

Bookmakers had, pre-tournament, refused to take odds on Dream Team III conquering, but their was another would-be Dream Team who they were happily taking the occasional punt on.

Indeed, never had a Men’s Olympic Football Tournament been taken so seriously. Brazil, boasting Roberto Carlos, Juninho Paulista, Rivaldo, Bebeto and an at-the-peak-of-his-phenomenal-powers Ronaldo, were the favourites. Argentina, with Roberto Ayala, Javier Zanetti, Diego Simeone, Marcelo Gallardo, Ariel Ortega, Claudio Lopez and Hernan Crespo, were a close second.

Then came three very strong European sides. Italy’s squad featured Gigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta, Damiano Tommasi and boy wonder Domenico Morfeo; France sent Claude Makelele, Vincent Candela, Robert Pires and Sylvain Wiltord; and Spain selected Gaizka Mendieta, Ivan de la Pena, Raul and Fernando Morientes.

Nigeria had dazzled at the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA™, and while many felt that was a one-off, the Super Eagles themselves believe there was more – and better – to come.

“Going into the tournament we had the self-belief that if we applied ourselves well we could do something great for ourselves and the country,” Emmanuel Amuneke told FIFA.com. “Don’t forget we had some players who featured for the senior national team at the 1994 World Cup.”

Nwankwo Kanu got the only goal against Hungary at the Citrus Bowl, before Jay-Jay Okocha sealed a 2-0 win over Japan that guaranteed Nigeria a Round-of-16 place. Their final group game was settled by Ronaldo, who produced a sumptuous nutmeg, exercised superhuman strength and buried a shot from outside the box into the bottom corner with his weaker foot.

A superb Okocha strike and a Celestine Babayaro goal earned a 2-0 quarter-final victory over Mexico and a rematch with what was widely regarded as a meliorated model of the reigning world champions. Predictably, Brazil were leading 3-1 – Nigeria’s goal had been courtesy of Roberto Carlos putting through his own net – with 12 minutes remaining. Unpredictably, a miracle fightback ensured.

Victor Ikpeba pulled one back with a fine strike from distance, before Kanu received the ball, with his back to goal inside a congested six-yard box and Dida pouncing on his heels, in injury time. Two days after his 20th birthday, the towering forward flicked the ball up over the Brazil goalkeeper, spun and stabbed it over the line to ensure a Golden Goal would determine the outcome.

Kanu himself would score it. A hopeful punt forward hit Ikpeba on the back and bounded into the path of the new Inter Milan man just outside the area. Kanu produced a heavenly first touch to con Aldair and Ronaldo Guiaro into blocking thin air, before sliding the ball past Dida. Nigeria were in the final.

“Beating Brazil boosted our confidence because it was a dramatic match,” said Amuneke. “We were almost out, but we fought and pulled it off.”

Argentina had beaten Spain 4-0 and Portugal 2-0 to reach the decider, and their status as favourites was fortified by taking a third-minute lead through ‘The Louse’ Lopez. Babayaro equaliser with a fierce header, and celebrated with a dance more eye-catching than anything seen at the lavish Opening Ceremony, but after Ortega was tripped, Crespo restored the lead for Daniel Passarella’s side from the spot.

In the 74th minute, Kanu headed on a long throw and Daniel Amokachi magically lobbed goalkeeper Pablo Cavallero. Then, in the 90th minute, Argentina attempted to play the offside trap to combat a Nigeria free-kick, only to leave substitute Amuneke free to volley home. The ‘Dream Team’ had turned Nigeria into dreamland.

“This means everything to Nigeria,” said Okocha. “Football is the one thing in Nigeria that brings us together. For the people back in my country, this may be the happiest day of their lives.”

Amuneke explained to FIFA.com: “Two days before the final, our coach, Jo Bonfrere, told me that some people were complaining that I was not playing at my best for the team. But in the match, he told me to stay warmed up and, as fate would have it, I scored the winning goal.

“Before going to the Olympics, there was an agreement with Barcelona, but I was struggling with injury, so there were doubts about my ability. But after the Olympics, Barcelona picked up their interest again, and I eventually moved there. The impact I made in Atlanta allowed people to see that this guy is a good player and you can count on him.”

“It was the manner in which we won the competition that made us incredibly happy,” Daniel Amokachi told FIFA.com. “We always seemed to come back from behind in games – and against top opposition. We played the giants of North and South America: Mexico in the quarter-final, Brazil in the semi-final and beat Argentina in the final.

“I had a wonderful tournament. My coach, Jo Bonfrere, said to me, ‘To really show your ability, you need to score. You’re doing everything right, you’re working hard for the team, creating chances for the team and if you can get a goal in the final, that would make you stand above the rest.’ I ended up scoring in the final which contributed in helping us win that gold medal.”

“The character, maturity and mentality of us all is what made us into champions. 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 champions.”

Centennial champion, no less.



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Charlo Brothers fight doubleheader: Showtime Boxing fight cards, odds, opponents, PPV price

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Boxing fans who have struggled with a declining quality of pay-per-view cards in recent decades are in for a treat this weekend with a PPV doubleheader featuring the Charlo twins, Jermell and Jermall. Five of the six fights on Saturday night set to take place over the two separate cards will be contested for world championships, making this a night of boxing that no fan should want to miss.

The monumental Showtime Boxing event will kick off at 7 p.m. ET, featuring two three-fight cards separated by a 30-minute intermission.

In the first of the two headline fights, Jermell Charlo will battle Jeison Rosario in a super welterweight unification bout where one man will leave with the WBC, WBA and IBF titles. Meanwhile, feature bout of the two cards, Jermall Charlo will put his WBA middleweight championship on the line against a dangerous challenger in Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

CBS Sports will be with you throughout the week leading up to the pay-per-view with our complete guide to all the action below. Keep up with the latest storylines, news and updates as we approach fight night on Saturday. Odds below provided via William Hill Sportsbook. 

Charlo vs. Rosario fight card, odds

  • Jermell Charlo (c) -380 vs. Jeison Rosario (c) +300, WBC, WBA, IBF super welterweight unification
  • Luis Nery vs. Aaron Alameda, vacant WBC super bantamweight championship
  • John Riel Casimero (c) vs. Duke Micah, WBO bantamweight championship

Charlo vs. Derevyanchenko fight card, odds

  • Jermall Charlo (c) -170 vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko +145, WBA middleweight championship
  • Brandon Figueroa (c) vs. Damien Vazquez, WBA super bantamweight championship  
  • Daniel Roman vs. Juan Carlos Payano, super bantamweights  

Charlo PPV doubleheader info

  • Date: Saturday, Sept.26
  • Location: Mohegan Sun Casino — Uncasville, Connecticut
  • Start time: 7 p.m. ET (Main cards) 
  • How to watch: Showtime PPV | PPV Price: $74.99



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Virat Kohli – ‘Yuzvendra Chahal was the one who changed the game’

Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli reckoned Yuzvendra Chahal‘s final over was where the match turned in his side’s 10-run victory against Sunrisers Hyderabad in their IPL 2020 opener.

Sunrisers were 121 for 2, needing 43 to win from 30 balls with Jonny Bairstow batting on 61, but Chahal took two wickets in 16th over – Bairstow included – to swing the match his team’s way. Earlier, Chahal had also got Manish Pandey to end a 71-run stand for the second wicket, and he finished with 3 for 18 in four overs and the Man of the Match award.

“We kept our composure tonight,” Kohli told Star, the host broadcaster. “When they needed 43 I think off five, just had a chat in the middle saying ‘no shoulders dropping till the last run is scored. The game can change anytime.’ And Yuzi comes in, the strike bowler that he’s been for us, and changes the game completely in that over.

ALSO SEE: RCB vs SRH live score 20th September 2020

“Not many other spinners got too much out of the pitch, but tonight he showed that if you have skill in the wrist, you can purchase on any track,” Kohli added of the Dubai International Cricket Stadium pitch. “That’s why he bowls well in Bangalore too. The dew was a big factor tonight, the pitch was decent to bat on in the second half I thought – much better than the first half. But the way he came in, backed his skill and got the ball to turn and bowled attacking lines. He was the one who changed the game, in my opinion.”

Chahal had a different plan for each of the three wickets he got, and all of them worked out. “When I bowled to Pandey I had the cover fielder back, so maybe he thought I’ll bowl outside offstump.” Chahal explained. “But that ball, I bowled on the stumps.

“For Bairstow, I knew that we need his wicket that over to come back into the game, even if I go for runs. That’s why I bowled it a bit fuller, but a bit on the legside, because it is very hard to hit from there since the ball is turning. And when Vijay (Shankar) came, Virat bhaiyya and AB (de Villiers) sir, we had decided that the first ball I will bowl a googly.”

Kohli said that the way his side had not given up even when the equation was in the Sunrisers favour augured well for the season.

“In the past if we had 43 off five, you would probably see shoulders dropping. The fact that we didn’t let the negativity seep into the bowling group even when there was dew and it was difficult to bowl, the guys kept believing and kept bowling attacking areas. Someone like Shivam (Dube) coming in and bowling three proper overs was an outstanding sign for us… a part-timer coming and doing the job means the guys want the opportunity, they want to be in pressure situations. And that’s the kind of mindset we want to be in.”

The Royal Challengers total was built on half-centuries from debutant Devdutt Padikkal and AB de Villiers, and de Villiers admitted to having doubts about his form coming into the game without having played competitive cricket for months.

“I surprised myself to be honest,” he said of his 30-ball 51. “As a 36-year-old to come here, without having played a lot of cricket, you do doubt yourself. But we worked really hard the last four weeks as a team and individually as well to get myself in some kind of form. Tonight was a very pleasing start. Unfortunately got run out there at the end but I’m pretty happy with the basics that seem to be in place.”

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Chiefs survive mistakes to register sloppy win over Chargers

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs were nearly flawless in their Week 1 win over the Houston Texans. They proved Sunday they can win when things don’t go quite so smoothly.

The Chiefs were penalized 11 times for 90 yards, had a handful of dropped passes and struggled to get into any offensive rhythm until the second half of their 23-20 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. They also made the kind of mental miscues that generally leave coach Andy Reid seething in his postgame news conference.

One of them occurred when wide receiver Mecole Hardman didn’t touch down a defensive player following an interception — it wound up being a moot point because of a penalty. Another came when wide receiver Tyreek Hill removed his helmet after a long touchdown reception for what should have been a penalty; he claimed it already was coming off.

“I would never take my helmet off,” Hill insisted. “When I’m on the field it’s my responsibility to always keep my helmet on. That’s one of Coach Reid’s biggest pet peeves, taking your helmet off after a touchdown.”

Regardless, all the miscues left Reid with this assessment: “We have to do better,” he said. “There are no excuses.”

Especially in an empty stadium. The Chiefs should have had no problem with communication with fans barred from Sofi Stadium for the Chargers’ debut in their new digs because of the coronavirus pandemic. But they still had costly holding and offsides penalties along with a roughing the passer penalty in the fourth quarter.

The Chiefs managed to overcome the mistakes, though, thanks to another starring turn from Patrick Mahomes, a couple of crucial grabs by his wide receivers and a defense that was pushed around the first half but suddenly showed up.

“Obviously, we didn’t play the way we wanted to play,” Mahomes said, “but to find a way to win, I think that when you get to the playoffs or when you get later in the season and you try to make a run, not every game is going to be a blowout.”

WHAT’S WORKING

Harrison Butker gives the Chiefs the chance to score points any time they cross midfield. His two 58-yard field goals, which matched Nick Lowery’s franchise record, included the game-winner in overtime. Butker already has made 11 kicks of at least 50 yards in three-plus seasons; Lowery hit 20 of them from 1980-93. And he passed Pete Stoyanovich for sixth in franchise scoring with 445 points; next up is Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, who scored 462 points from 1997-2008.

“I mean, what can you say?” Reid said of Butker, who has hit a field goal in a Chiefs-record 16 straight games. “He’s a mentally tough kid and we appreciate him and how he goes about his job.”

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The secondary is woefully depleted. Bashaud Breeland is only halfway through his four-game suspension and fellow starter Charvarius Ward is still dealing with a fractured hand. Antonio Hamilton went down Sunday with a hamstring injury.

STOCK UP

CB L’Jarius Sneed is looking like a fourth-round steal in last April’s draft. He’s been pressed into service because of injuries and suspensions and has risen to the occasion, picking off a pass in each of his first two games.

“That’s the reason why we went out and got him,” Chiefs defensive backs coach Sam Madison said. “He is able to run, he’s tall, he’s long and you look at our corners from last year, you know he just fit that mold.”

STOCK DOWN

DT Chris Jones, who signed a four-year, $85 million deal in the offseason, was beaten regularly at the point of attack in the run game. He also was penalized for offside early in the game and roughing the passer on third down in the fourth quarter, giving the Chargers a first down and leading to a field goal that made it 20-17 with 2:30 left in the game.

INJURED

RB Darrel Williams left with an ankle injury, DE Frank Clark was ill and WR Sammy Watkins took a blow to the head that drew Reid’s ire. “I thought it was questionable,” he said. “We’re not supposed to have those in our game here.”

LB Damien Wilson passed the concussion protocol and returned to the game. LB Anthony Hitchens played through a stinger.

KEY NUMBER

28: That’s the number of wins the Chiefs have over the AFC West in their past 30 games.

NEXT STEPS

Mahomes and the Chiefs visit Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in a matchup of 2-0 teams next Monday night. They were on a collision course in last year’s AFC playoffs before the Titans upset Baltimore in the divisional round. Kansas City then beat Tennessee in the conference title game before winning its first Super Bowl in 50 years.



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