Free Press Journal

Nigerian U-17 coach Amuneke hopes to impress in World Cup

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Abuja: Nigerian Under-17 football team coach Emmanuel Amuneke believes the four-time world champions tend to play their best on the biggest stage and will deliver in the 2015 edition too.

Amuneke said they have fewer continental laurels, having won the African championship at the age level just twice because of substandard pitch conditions.

“African football is a totally different ball game. It is more rugged and sometimes the pitch condition does not help a team that likes to keep possession of the ball, for instance,” Amuneke was quoted as saying by fifa.com.


“We do well at the World Cup because the pitches help us to play much better. This happened at the 2013 tournament in the United Arab Emirates (which Nigeria won with a 3-0 victory against Mexico in the final). People could see our real quality.”

Adding to their four titles as well as three further appearances in the final, the west Africans will go into Chile 2015 as one of the favourites. The 24-nation tournament will run from October 17 to November 8.

Amuneke, who played for the national team at the 1994 FIFA World Cup — scoring memorable goals against Bulgaria and Italy – and won gold at the 1996 Olympics, says he feels his international experience will help his players in Chile.

“Being a former Nigerian international, I have had the opportunity to play at the highest level – at the FIFA World Cup – and it is always a good memory,” he said. “It was quite an experience, and taking a team to a World Cup as a coach gives me the opportunity to let the players know what is expected at this level.”

The 44-year-old also feels the priority of the team should be of winning laurels for the country and they would only be able to do that when they put up a collective effort.