Former Nigeria international Ifeanyi Ekwueme has urged the Nigeria Football Federation to hand over the reins of Nigeria’s cadet teams to Coach Emmanuel Amuneke.
Nigeria has struggled at the U17 and U20 levels since Amuneke led the country to win the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile, unearthing the likes of Kelechi Nwakali, Samuel Chukwueze and Victor Osimhen.
Since then, the Golden Eaglets failed to qualify for both the continental and global showpiece in 2017, and crashed out in the second round at the latest edition in Brazil last year.
The Flying Eagles on the other hand, haven’t fared any better, failing to qualify for the junior World Cup in 2017 and being eliminated in the Round of 16 in 2019.
Ekwueme, who is currently the Sporting Director ofi Heartland FC, says the NFF needs to retrace their steps, look back at when the cadet teams were most successful and appoint Amuneke who was the person behind the success to restore the teams back to where they belong.
“Nigeria is a giant in African and world football and has a huge pedigree when it comes to junior teams, but lately we’ve really been disappointing and I lay all the blame at the feet of the NFF, especially in their appointment of coaches,” Ekwueme said.
“Since Samson Siasia left, Amuneke has established himself as arguably the best coach in Nigeria and I think he should be given the job of coaching both the U17 and U20 teams. We all saw how he took Tanzania to their first ever Afcon from nearly an impossible position.
“One of the things that made him succeed is his discipline which he has maintained since his playing days and that is what is most needed when coaching young players because we have enough talents already in Nigeria.”
Amuneke who was the African Footballer of the year in 1997 is currently free after leaving his position as coach of the Tanzanian national team.