Tanzania coach Emmanuel Amuneke says Nigerians must tell themselves the truth, if they are to end the country’s poor performances in recent Confederation of Africa Football Awards.
Amuneke, the 1994 CAF Player of the Year, stated this after the country managed just one award – the Women’s National Team of the Year – at the 2018 CAF Awards held in Dakar, Senegal, on Tuesday.
Nwankwo Kanu is the last Nigerian to win the CAF best player award in 1999.
When asked on how he felt on the performances of the country’s players and teams at the awards, Amuneke replied, “I don’t know, I’m not the one running Nigerian football. We need to ask those running the country’s football.”
He added, “Other countries and players are moving up and it’s up to our players to step up too. We can’t question other countries for winning the awards, when we were winning, nobody questioned us. We can’t be among the best when we don’t tell ourselves the truth.”
The former Barcelona winger was honoured in Dakar alongside past winners of the award, including Liberia president, George Weah; the late Rashidi Yekini, who was represented by his daughter; Nwankwo Kanu, Victor Ikpeba, Patrick Mboma, Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’O and Federic Kanoute.
Amuneke, who coached the Golden Eaglets to a fifth triumph at the U-17 World Cup in 2015, said the new generation of players should work towards becoming better players.
“We are four Nigerians who have won the CAF Player of the Year award but only three of us were in Dakar to witness the event.
“Football is always changing, it’s dynamic. We the older generation can no longer return to the pitch to reposition our football. The young players should know that hard work is the only way forward. But are we doing the right thing to move our football forward? I realise that we dwell so much on glamour in Nigeria but forget to do what would bring glamour to our football.”
Former Enyimba coach Kadiri Ikhana, the 2003 CAF Coach of the Year, also decried Nigeria’s failure to win Africa’s top awards in Dakar.
Our performance showed that our players have not sustained their good forms for a long time at their clubs. When the players maintain their forms for more than a season, big clubs will come for them and that will further improve the country’s image on the continent,” he said.
“Whatever grudges fans have with some of the awards, if we have our players performing excellently, it will be difficult for them to be sidelined. Nigeria used to have the best players on the continent and if we can return to that time, we will win more CAF awards.”
Also, ex-Super Eagles coach Adegboye Onigbinde said the country’s poor showing was a reflection of the game at home.
He said, “The awards were a reflection of what has been happening in our football in the last decade. We have failed to plan properly for the development of the game and we are seeing the results. When we don’t make a conscious effort to develop the sport, the products will always not meet up with the others from other parts of the world.
“We need to ensure that we start developing our football so that we can achieve our full potential.”