Amuneke, the 1994 CAF Player of the Year, and current coach of Tanzania had some very bleak words for Nigerian football fans after the country managed to net just one award – the Women’s National Team of the Year – at the 2018 CAF Awards held in Dakar, Senegal, on Tuesday.
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.”
“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 not be distracted by intangibles that they can't control and focus rather 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.”