BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
Scorer of winning goals in two of Nigeria’s football golden moments, Emmanuel Amuneke, this Tuesday is a year to his Golden Jubilee celebrations as he clocks 48. Amuneke, now the Chief Coach in Tanzania, scored the winning goal for Nigeria at the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations.
He replicated the winning mentality again, scoring the golden goal that won Nigeria the gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta to make Nigeria the first non-European country to win the Olympic Games gold medal in football event in 68 years.
Before then, the last time a team other than from Europe won the gold medal was achieved by Uruguay in 1928. It is worthy to note that since Amuneke’s winning goal in 1996, no European team has succeeded in winning the football even of the Olympics.
Amuneke’s winning goal was also the last time Nigeria beat Argentina in a competitive match. He took his winning mentality to the Golden Eaglets as he was in the technical crew that tutored the team to win the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup and was also in charge when the team won the trophy for a record-extending fifth time in 2015.
Now a coach of Tanzania, Amuneke is on the verge of qualifying the country to its first Africa Cup of Nations since that of Nigeria in 1980. He is also in charge of the U-17 team of Tanzania which ahs been pitched against his former team, Golden Eaglets in the 2019 CAF U-17 championship.
According to footballlive.ng which had a chat with him after last week’s draw, Amuneke is sharing his allegiances for the Africa U-17 Cup of Nations with his fatherland and country where he now earns a living, Tanzania
Footballlive.ng reports that, in an apparent effort not to appear to be demeaning both of the countries, Amuneke has tipped the Eaglets and Tanzania to qualify from Group A of next year’s competition.
Tanzania, who will play as hosts, are in the same group with Nigeria, Angola and Uganda, but Amuneke, who now handles the host country’s senior national team, Taifa Stars, says the two nations will pull through.
That means Nigeria and Tanzania will qualify for next year’s FIFA U17 World Cup, since all semi-finals at the U-17 AFCON in April will make it to Peru 2019, which will run from October 5 to 27.