Nigerian coaches have recorded amazing feats at club and national team levels on the continent and beyond. A few of them who travelled abroad perform well to boost the image of the country in football.
We recall that Kasimawo Laloko was in charge of the Gambian national team in the past; Christian Chukwu was head coach of Kenya, while the late Stephen Keshi handled the national teams of Togo and Mali. The former Eagles skipper qualified Togo for the 2006 World Cup, but the crisis in the team led to his sacking.
He also took Mali to the Nations Cup. Over the years, many Nigerians believe that homebased coaches are better to handle all national teams. That is a subject for another day.
We however recall that the exploits of the country in age-grade football were made possible by Nigerians. Sebastin Brodericks led the U-17 team to glory in China. After him, Coach Fanny Amun, the late Yemi Tella, Manu Garba and Emanuel Amuneke also won the U-17 World Cup for Nigeria.
Also, we remember, Nigeria is yet to win the U-20 World Cup, but in 1989 and 2005 courtesy of Tunde Disu and Samson Siasia, Nigeria won silver medals in the competition.
Siasia also won silver for Nigeria at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games football event and, in 2018, he also led Mikel Obi and others to clinch bronze in Brazil. The late Badwin Bazuaye was the chief coach under Technical Adviser, Jo Bonfrere, when Nigeria won the Olympic gold medal at the Atlanta ’96 football event of the Olympics.
And so, it was heart-warming on the last match day of the 2019 AFCON that a Nigerian, Emanuel Amuneke, led Tanzania to beat Uganda 3-0 and booked a ticket for the continental showcase.
We join other Nigerians and followers of the game to congratulate Amuneke for bringing glory to Tanzanian football, 39 years after the country last featured in the African Nations Cup. At their last appearance in 1980, Tanzania paraded a strong squad that had players like Charles Boniface and Salim, but this time, it was team work and technique of the Nigerian coach that earned the country a ticket to Egypt.
We are particularly impressed that Amuneke recorded such a remarkable feat outside Nigeria. After leading the country’s U-17 team to FIFA World Cup glory in 2015, he took charge of the U-20 team two years later, but somehow, Nigeria failed to qualify for the World Cup due to some logistics and administrative issues.
It was a shock that he was abandoned along with his amazing bundle of talented young lads in the team. Only recently, one of them, Victor Oshimen, scored three goals and assisted the other in Nigeria’s 4-0 win against Libya in a crucial U-23 AFCON qualifier. Amuneke has proved himself as a great coach of repute. We make bold to say he is a Super Eagles handler in waiting.
If FIFA could have him in its body’s study group, it says a lot about his knowledge of the game. When the draw for the AFCON final is made in a few weeks, Amuneke’s Tanzania could be facing Nigeria in the same group.
That will be interesting. We hereby charge other Nigerian coaches to develop themselves and strive for glory outside the country. Nigeria is a strong force in Africa and Amuneke’s achievement is a big boost for Nigerian coaches.
Sunday Oliseh only recently excelled with a Dutch team, Fortuna Sittard, until politics of the game affected him. The late Shaibu Amodu did well with Orlando Pirates of South Africa, while some other Nigerian coaches handled club sides across Africa.
We also call on the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the country’s coaching association to create an enabling environment for the homebased coaches to excel. They need better motivation and exposure to modern trends in the game.
Refresher courses both home and abroad, should be staged to equip the coaches better on the job. We believe the standard of the country’s coaches will have positive effect on the game in Nigeria because the home-based players will be better in the continental football campaigns. It is sad that the last time Nigeria won the CAF Champions League was in 2004.
The amazing feat of Amuneke in Tanzania is an indication that there are quality coaches in Nigeria, just as we have talented footballers scattered all over the country. The response of Siasia to Amuneke’s achievement was instructive.
He said: “It is a big statement for Nigerian coaches and we are all proud of him. Many of us have deep knowledge of the game and can actually perform well under a good atmosphere.”
As Gernot Rohr continues his tenure as the manager of the Super Eagles, NFF should monitor Amuneke and also keep eye on other promising home-based coaches as future handlers of the senior national team. Again, we congratulate Amuneke and charge him to go to Egypt and set a new performance record for Tanzania in African football.
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