“Emmanuel Amuneke, he believes in God. When you see him play, so will you.”
This was the copy of a 1995 ad featuring the then Nigerian winger, standing with both arms spread wide, like an eagle in flight, and one foot on a ball.
It was a fitting tribute to the genius of the left-footed wing necromancer who had not only emerged from nowhere to score two goals as Nigeria won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1994, but also had been instrumental to their enchanting World Cup play in the U.S. a few months later.
A quarter of a century later, that belief has not wavered one bit, and as Amuneke conjured something of a minor miracle for the small East African nation of Tanzania by qualifying them for their first Cup of Nations appearance in nearly four decades, he points up to divine grace
“Before I came into Tanzania, there were other coaches,” the Nigerian told ESPN.
“It is not that I am better than them; I am just blessed. It is just Grace from God, and I am happy that I have been given the privilege to take a team to the Nations Cup.”
Tanzanians will also count themselves somewhat blessed to have had the pieces fall in place for them at a very opportune time. Amuneke was a few months out of leaving Sudanese club SC Khartoum when he was approached by the Tanzanian Football Federation.cheap official nike nfl jerseys
“I didn’t think about it too long. They showed interest that they wanted me to coach their team. Once I spoke to them and I found out that their ideas for developing football was the same with mine, I gave it the green light.”
Despite those convergent ideas, not many people would have expected the Taifa Stars would be at the Afcon a few short months later, not even when they secured a goalless draw against Uganda in Kampala, but Amunike said he believed anything was possible with hard work new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap
“When I came, nobody expected us to do much because, with all due respect, many of us Africans don’t believe in each other. We feel that only Europeans can do the job.
“But I said one thing at my first press conference: That we are not here to make promises to anybody, but I believe that if we work very hard we can qualify; and that is exactly what we did as a team. From the administrators to the players, to the fans and the fans.
“From day one, I believed in the project that the federation had. One was to develop, the other was to improve as a team, especially after drawing at home to Lesotho, which wasn’t very good. We looked at ourselves, we knew we were not very good, but that if we kept an open mind and worked hard we could achieve big things.”
Amuneke’s extraordinary achievement with Tanzania lines him up behind the late great Stephen Keshi as only the second Nigerian to lead a team to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations.