Critics, analysts and pundits game them little or no chance because they were rated as the underdogs but they made those armchair critics eat their words as well as humble pie when the dark horses emerged as the winners of the race, a result that not even the prophets of sports saw coming. Here are just a few of those incredible teams who shocked the sporting world making history in the process
1 Nigeria- Atlanta Olympics 1996
They were never given a chance especially by the home fans who booed them while supporting their opponents in a friendly match which saw the Togolese national team defeating the U-23 national team. They got passed their Hungarian opponents with a slim 1-0 victory, beat Japan who had earlier beaten tournament favourites, the samba boys of Brazil. The team lost narrowly to the Brazilians but made it to the semi-finals to meet with Brazil again only this time Nigeria had the last laugh as they came from behind to win by the golden goal courtesy of a well taken Nwankwo Kanu shot. At the end of 90 minutes of their epic final battle with Argentina, Nigeria made history as the first African country to appear at an Olympic final as well as to win the gold, the rest is history as the team that was not preferred became the team to be revered hence their name The Dream Team.
2 Greece- Euro 2004
No one expected it as a lowly rated Greece to progress beyond the group stage yet they beat the hosts Portugal at the group stage and as well in the final in what was tagged as one of the biggest upsets in world football as Greece smiled home with the trophy while Cristiano Ronaldo went home in tears
3 Zambia- African Cup of Nations 2012
They say never pick a fight with someone whose has nothing to lose, yet Ivory Coast who were the tournaments favourites discovered this as they threw away an opportunity to become African champions with Didier Drogba throwing away a penalty in the first half. At the end of full and extra time, it was time for penalty shootout where Africa’s new kings of football emerged, Zambia, a team no one gave a chance took their chance and made the best of it
4 Nigeria-African Cup of Nations 2013
After playing a draw with Zambia and Boukina Fasso and managing to scrape past Ethiopia, the Super Eagles went full speed ahead in a tournament that they had been called ‘Underachievers’ by beating tournaments favourites, Ivory Coast 2-1, thrashed Mali 4-1 and met again with Boukina Fasso only this time a Sunday Mba goal ended Nigeria’s nineteen year search for the title as they were crowned African Champions
5 Portugal- Euro 2016
Portugal in the news again only this time they beat the hosts France who statistically were better on paper and on form than they were. Pundits lost all hope on Portugal as their talisman and skipper, Cristiano Ronaldo was taken off but at the end of the tournament, Portugal became champions of Europe though the odds were stacked high against them.
6 Cameroon- African Cup of Nations 2017
In Ghana 2008 Egypt and Cameroon met at the final in which Egypt won their sixth title. In Gabon 2017 Egypt and Cameroon met again in the final, a final which many football pundits widely believed would be a playback of 2008, were they so wrong because that night instead of Pharaohs picking up their eighth, it was the Indomitable Lions who picked up their fifth title in a tournament that looked down on them
Football stories which replay the epic battles of an inexperienced David faced with an overconfident Goliath, what do you have to say about this?