Former African footballer of the year, Emmanuel Amunike believes that except Nigeria consciously allow her abundant talents develop, they will not reach the heights they so desire in football.
Amunike – a member of the Golden Era of Nigerian football which won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and dazzled the rest of the world at the World Cup months later – is part of a five-man FIFA Technical Study Group for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
The Study Group on Thursday afternoon faced members of the accredited press, including our Chief Football Writer Fisayo Dairo at the Luzhniki Stadium Conference Room in Moscow for a review of the sixty-two games played so far in the tournament.
Amunike spoke with www.aclsports.com after the Media briefing. The former Nigeria under-17 coach opines that Nigeria must learn in giving their talents the requisite development if they intend to compete at the highest level of football.
“When you talk about learning, you have the young generation coming up. You must create an enabling environment for them where they can be able to grow as players and develop their game,” the 1994 Africa Player of the Year told www.aclsports.com
“If you don’t have all these things, regardless of how good they are, it is very difficult for them to compete with the rest of the world,” he stated.
Nigeria’s first group opponents in Russia, Croatia; have qualified for their first ever World Cup final after a nail-biting victory over England on Wednesday night. Many football fans in Africa’s most populous nation attributed Super Eagles’ submissive loss to the Europeans as their missing point in the tournament.
Amunike, gives a documented explanation on that.
“First of all, we didn’t miss it. We made it to Russia, we qualified to be among the teams that are involved in the World Cup.
“But of course, you can’t just go to a World Cup believing on your previous success. You have to work towards the opponents you’re going to face and prepare yourself tactically.
“We have the technical and psychological aspect of the game, so I think we missed it, believing probably the way we qualified from the African continent, we’re going to have an easy ride at the World Cup,” said the former Barcelona star.
While nations in the world are expected to restrategise for the next four years, what trailed Nigeria’s exit was a messy situation in their Football Federation which has been hindering the participation of the national teams in preparing for major tournaments.
Amunike who won the FIFA Under-17 Championship in 2015 in Chile as the head coach of the Golden Eaglets insists his country must learn.
“The most important thing now is to learn from it (the World Cup) and look at what we have done good and done wrong and then come up with much better plans to prepare our players.
“You can’t go to war believing only on talents; we have talents, we have players but we have to help them develop our game,” he submitted.
Also on the FIFA Technical Study Group panel are former World Cup winning coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, former Nigeria coach Bora Milutinovic, Dutch legend Marco van Basten and Scot Andy Roxburgh.
Fisayo Dairo reporting from Moscow