Nigerian pride in silver lining
© Foto-net

When the final whistle went at the Bird's Nest in Beijing on Saturday afternoon, Nigeria's players did not slump to their knees or wail and gnash their teeth. Some fell to the ground in sheer exhaustion, others shook hands with team-mates and congratulated victorious Argentines, but no one shed a tear. To the man, the overriding feeling was one of pride. caught up with members of this outstanding Dream Team IV after they collected their silverware.

"It's a little bit of a disappointment, obviously," Solomon Okoronkwo told after the 1-0 loss. "We had our chances in the game and we just couldn't find a way to take one of them. Overall I can't complain about the way we played as a team at this tournament. The spirit was high, and we were together all the time. Gold would have been better, but at least we have a silver to go home with."

The man who replaced Okoronkwo at the start of the second half, Everton's Victor Anichebe, was also proud of the team's run. "Overall we can be proud of what we did here in Beijing. There was some disrespect shown to us before the final started, and no one was giving us a chance. In the end I think we did ourselves proud with our efforts here in Beijing. We're disappointed to lose the final, but when we look back on this later we'll all be proud," added the player who saw the best Nigerian chance saved brilliantly by Sergio Romero.

"Not many people actually expected us to get here, so we proved them wrong," Anichebe concluded.

"We are a great family, and families don't break apart when things go wrong. We can be well proud," said foraging captain Promise Isaac. Dutch-based centre-back Dele Adeleye, also lauded the team's family ethic. "We eat together, we drink together, we play together and we share everything as one group. We have good times and bad times and we've been together for so long. I am a happy man today. We are not keen on losing, but a lot of very good teams went home with nothing. We have silver."

"Just being here in Beijing at the Olympic final is something we can be proud of," said goalkeeper Ambruse Vanzekin. "I feel that we are champions just by being here!

"I don't feel bad for me," he went on. "But I do feel bad for all the people back home watching their televisions and supporting us all the way. We wanted so much to give them a gold medal."