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Amuneke: They said we couldn’t win the U-17 World Cup

Amuneke: They said we couldn’t win the U-17 World Cup
January 25
11:11 2016

He was the last African Footballer of the Year thus awarded while still playing on African soil. Emmanuel Amuneke was on the substitutes’ bench all through the Tunisia ’94 African Cup of Nations, well, until the final when Dutchman Clemens Westerhof started him and he stunned the World by scoring a brace to win the cup for Nigeria.

Amuneke also came on as a substitute to score the deciding goal that won Nigeria the Olympic Soccer Goal at Atlanta 1996, first ever for any African team. He was once a player of FC Barcelona of Spain and he took to coaching after an exemplary career. He coached some local teams in Nigeria, including Julius Berger, and secured the biggest coaching licences in world coaching, becoming assistant coach of the Golden Eaglets under Manu Garba and winning the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2013 for Nigeria.

Amuneke then became the Golden Eaglets chief coach for the team, taking the team to win the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup against all odds. Amuneke, forever his diplomatic and humble self, spoke to TheCable on the challenges he faced at the tournament, stories of lack of support from his employers and doubts about his ability to win the championship.


We thank God for that. Nobody was expecting anything from that direction. And I am also happy for the recognition given to everyone and the rewards from the president. So, I thank the president for that.


I don’t want to talk about the money. For me, personally I have achieved what is the most important thing and that is winning the cup. And Nigerians are happy. Whatever the president does, it is what comes from his heart. Whether it is small money or big money, that is his decision and that has to be respected.

My players are happy. And I am happy for them. Not even because of the money. These are players, I am sorry to say this, that some of your colleagues said could not do anything, that they could not win the World Cup but have proven themselves. They showed that it is not about what people say about you but what you think about yourself. So, I think I am happy for them.


It was not my toughest challenge. Nothing in life is the worst or the best. In everything, there’s always challenge. What counts is your ability to face the challenge that is coming. The challenges that I face are not about challenges. I am realistic to myself, I am realistic to the game. And I have to do what I think that is right for the game. It is not about what people are talking about, a lot of people can say anything. But what counts is that the same people who are talking, have they been able to add any value to our football? They have not added anything.



I have made myself very clear that when the time comes, we will know where we will be standing. Right now, I have done what I am supposed to do by making sure we were able to not only defend the World Cup that we won in 2013, but by winning it back to back. When the time comes everyone will know where we are going to be. I don’t want to get myself involved in speculations or hearsay. Thank God that you are a journalist who knows that things have to be done in a professional way. It is not about talking, talking and talking and at the end of the day nothing comes out of it. So, let’s wait for the right time and at the right time, we will know where we will be.


Like I told you before, I don’t want to talk about money. We went to the World Cup, we defended the country, we did what we had to do to win the Cup. If they didn’t make any statement till now, you should know that we are not the type of people that talk and talk. If they feel that they are owing us, they should live up to their responsibility by paying us. That is all.


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