Nigeria’s under-17 national team, Golden Eaglets’ media officer, Morakinyo Abodunrin has joined in showering accolades on former Super Eagles’ winger, Emmanuel Amuneke for qualifying Tanzania for their second ever Africa Cup of Nations ticket.
Footballive.ng reports that Morakinyo is excited to see the man he worked alongside in two FIFA U-17 World Cup winning squads, UAE 2013 and Chile 2015, take his coaching career to another level by leading The Taifa stars to Egypt 2019.
Abodunrin, a seasoned sports writer and editor, noted how the 1994 African Footballer of The Year defied all odds to romp back from the disappointment of failing to take the Flying Eagles to the 2017 African U-20 Cup of Nations and FIFA U-20 World Cup in the same year.
Rather than feel depressed, Amuneke, who played for Zamalek of Egypt, Sporting Lisbon of Portugal and Barcelona of Spain during his heyday, stormed back stronger and got the head coach’s job with Tanzania’s senior national team.
On Sunday, Amuneke added another feather to his glowing cap, as he became the second Nigerian tactician, after late Stephen Keshi with Togo, to take another African team to the AFCON finals.
Abodunrin, fondly called ‘Moraks’ by close pals, noted that Tanzania’s team, Taifa Stars, last qualified for the continental soccer showpiece when Amuneke was just ten years old and that outing was in Nigeria.
He eulogised: “Our Chile 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup-winning ‘captain’ coach Emmanuel Amuneke (OFR) has done it again by qualifying Tanzania for the Egypt 2019 AFCON-for only the second time in the history of the East African country.
“Taifa Stars appeared for the first time at the AFCON in 1980; exactly 39 years ago when Amuneke was just 10 years old.
“Incidentally, Amuneke is assisted on this assignment by Emeka Amadi who was the goalkeepers’ trainer when Nigeria won the U17 World Cup for a record fifth time in Chile.
“But qualification for the 2019 AFCON with Tanzania is surely an icing on the cake.”
On his part, Amuneke, who was part of Nigeria’s Tunisia ’94 AFCON winning team, admitted he is happy to make history with Tanzania, who finished second in Group L with eight points, five behind Uganda, and said they now have to start making plans for a solid outing in Egypt.
Amuneke stated: “It was an honour to have been given the opportunity to achieve great things with Tanzania football.
“Qualification for the 2019 AFCON was always going to be a tough task but the hard work and belief the team had got us through.
“I’m proud that what we set out to do as our first objective has been met.Now we plan for Egypt 2019 AFCON.”