SCORENIGERIA’s KOLA DANIEL interviews coach Emmanuel Amuneke, the head coach of Taifa Stars of Tanzania to 2019 AFCON, in Cairo, Egypt.
SCORENIGERIA: Coach good day.
AMUNEKE: Good day, Kola.
SCORENIGERIA: It’s done and dusted – Tanzania are out of the tournament, coach Amuneke. What lessons have you learnt from this tournament?
Well, we have learnt a lot of lessons in terms of being part of the tournament in Egypt. Although we lost all our three games, it was an experience for the team and for the country is an eye opener to see that there is a lot to be done so as to be in a better position to compete, if we are privileged again to qualify for the next AFCON.
But of course every journey has its own stories and every journey has its own challenges and the good thing is that we came here and we have seen that probably we need to do more to be in a position to compete with the rest of Africa.
Were you at the AFCON with the best players from Tanzania?
Well, I think these are the best players we have at the moment in Tanzania, although we still have other players who are coming up, but in my philosophy I believe is not about youth or old players.
I believe if you are good, you are deserving and anybody that is good in what he’s doing deserves to be given opportunity to prove himself and that is exactly what we did in Tanzania.
We came from holistic point of view to approach the game and the good thing is that even when nobody believe that we can qualify last August when I came, we are in Egypt.
Unfortunately for us we could not win our games here, but the record is that we were here and we have learned a lot of things and hopefully when we go back to Tanzania, we will bring what we have seen here on board and continue to grow as a team, continue to see how we can strengthen ourselves as a team and continue see how we can be in a better position to compete in the nearest future. That’s our objective.
Uganda I could remember their first AFCON after many years, when they came that was in Gabon or so, they could not win any game and today they are one of the strongest teams, nobody wants to play against them.
I hope we can go back and analyse things from holistically point of view and be in a position to tell ourselves the truth and also be in a position to tell ourselves that we can do much better, we can bring in this experience, we can bring in what we have learnt and then develop our players to compete in the future.
Coach, what is your general assessment of the tournament?
My general assessment is, from day one when this format was introduced there was a little bit of doubt from people, but as the tournament began we have seen that the standard is growing and I think this is what African football needs, there are no more minnows, even the teams who qualified for the first time, you could see their performance, which tells you that football is growing.
Africa has to adapt to the changes that the game is coming up with, but I am happy that the tournament is putting up a good standard and hopefully, this will improve African football in the nearest future.
Nigeria your country of birth lost their last match 2 – 0 to Madagascar and on Saturday they will face Cameroon in the knockout rounds. What do they need to do to progress?
Well, I wish them all the best, unfortunately they lost their last game against Madagascar, but also it tells you that if you don’t do your job properly, you can be beaten.
And also it’s an eye opener to them and it’s a very big privilege that they have qualified, so they are still in the tournament, all they need to do is to see how they can go back and correct their mistakes and then be in the right frame of mind and in the beat position to do well in the knockout stage.
Because anything short of victory at this stage means you are out of the tournament. I wish them all the best.
Emmanuel Amuneke far back in 1991 was with Zamalek of Egypt here after which you moved to Sporting Lisbon in Portugal and then to Barcelona. Many years after the names Emmanuel Amuneke are still ringing a bell among the Egyptians. What are some of the memories of your days far back in 1991 in Egypt?
Well Kola for me it was a privilege, Egypt is where I played my first professional football from Julius Berger. I came here from 1991 to 1994 before I left to Portugal.
It was a great memory, we won everything possible, we achieved a lot during my time, we won the CAF Champions League, two league championships, the FA Cup, it was a great memory, we automatically won everything in Africa during my time.
I am therefore happy that after so many years I have left here people still remember me, they still appreciate what I have done for them.
Thank you so much.
Thank you too.