Wednesday Jan 29, 2020. 14:00
Former Super Eagles star Ifeanyi Ekwueme has called on the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to restore coach Emmanuel Amunike to the head of their junior national teams.
Amunike famously led Nigeria’s U-17 team to the age group World Cup title in 2015, unearthing gems such as Samuel Chukwueze and Victor Osimhen.
Yet the coach’s departure two years later has seen a downturn in form for the Golden Eaglets, who failed to qualify for the global and continental tournaments in 2017 and exit the World Cup in Brazil last year in the second round.
The U-20s have also struggled to impress in recent years and Ekwueme, the current sporting director of Heartland FC, believes Amunike should be restored to his former position.
“Nigeria is a giant in African and world football and has a huge pedigree when it comes to junior teams, but lately we’ve really been disappointing and I lay all the blame at the feet of the NFF, especially in their appointment of coaches,” Ekwueme is quoted by Complete Sports.
“Since Samson Siasia left, Amuneke has established himself as arguably the best coach in Nigeria and I think he should be given the job of coaching both the U-17 and U-20 teams. We all saw how he took Tanzania to their first ever AFCON [Note: it was their first Africa Cup of Nations appearance since 1980] from nearly an impossible position.
“One of the things that made him succeed is his discipline which he has maintained since his playing days and that is what is most needed when coaching young players because we have enough talents already in Nigeria.”
Amuneke was recently appointed head coach of Egyptian side Misr El-Makasa.