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Olympic Flashback

My brain is hopelessly locked on futbol, 24 hours a day, it seems, so over the weekend, when someone mentioned next year's Olympics in Beijing, what's the first thing that came to my mind? But of course, Italy-Ghana, 1996 Atlanta Summer Games, early-round match at RFK Stadium. (Yeah, I need to go on holiday -- soon.)

Totally random, I know, but I've just never been able to forget that extraordinary game because of the events on the pitch and the players who have gained prominence since.

Olympic soccer is primarily for under-23 players, and Italy's roster included future superstars Nesta, Cannavaro and Buffon. Ghana boasted Samuel Kuffour, George Mason University defender Joseph Addo and Richard Kingson, who was in goal against the United States at last year's World Cup.

Marco Branca, an overage player at the time who is now Inter Milan's technical director, scored twice, but Italy went down a man in the 62nd and was beaten, 3-2, on the second of two remarkable goals by a 17-year-old named Christian Sabah (Saba). Surprisingly, Sabah's club career never really materialized into much as he has remained in Bayern Munich's reserves for a decade and was loaned out twice.

In addition to the red, there were 11 yellow cards and a couple scuffles. The loss was Italy's second in a row and eliminated them from the competition -- just weeks after the full national team was eliminated in the first round of Euro '96. Check out the full match report.

Olympic soccer receives little TV coverage, especially on NBC, so other than the 27,000 in attendance, few actually witnessed that breathtaking match. Were you one of them? Please share your memories here.

By Steve Goff  |  June 18, 2007; 7:41 AM ET
Categories:  World  
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