Emmanuel Amuneke, Golden Eaglets’ Head Coach, has told his players to gird their loins as they face their Egyptian counterparts in two-test matches slated for Friday and Sunday.
The former Zamalek and Barcelona winger actually stopped the lads in the middle of a trek around their Sheraton Dreamland camp on Thursday to remind them about the importance of the task at hand.
“You can see how beautiful this place is but you have many more beautiful years ahead of you if only you can cease this opportunity by being responsible and ready to fight for a place in the team.
“I want you to give these two matches your best to prove again that you are good enough to be picked,” he said.
The two matches would take place at 10pm local time (9:00pm in
Nigeria) due to the on-going observance of the Ramadan by the Muslims but Amuneke said he was not disturbed by the arrangement.
“We are expecting a tougher game because we saw their reaction (the Egyptians) after they lost the first game to us in Kaduna,” he stated matter-of-factly.
“They were furious as such; we are expecting a much more difficult game on Friday.
“We have also seen that they have progressively improved with the way they beat Sudan home and away in their last African U-17 Championship qualifiers but we would be ready to present them with a tough opposition,” he noted.
He enthused further that his players would not be caught napping under floodlight following their experience at the WAFU B Under-17 Tournament, adding that the Ramadan would have no adverse effect on the matches.
“What we have been doing all this while is to prepare our boys
mentally ready to play under any situation because we actually played and won our first match in Togo under floodlight,” he stressed.
“Most of our players are used to playing during Ramadan and the same goes to the Egyptians, so I don’t think it would affect us.”
Meanwhile, the Golden Eaglets were warmly received Wednesday night as the Nigeria’s national Under-17 team landed at the Cairo Airport aboard EGYPTAIR from Abuja.
The contingent of 25 players and nine officials led by Alhaji Ahmad Muazu Kawu, a board member of the Nigeria Football Federation and Chairman of the Nigeria Nationwide League, finally arrived the ‘land of history’ at 7:20pm local time (8:20pm Nigerian time) and were met on arrival by officials of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) led Mr. Nadar Darwish of the Players’ Affairs Department.
Expectedly, Golden Eaglets’ Head Coach, Emmanuel Amuneke was an instant hit with the Cairo fans following his successful stint at Egypt’s top side, Zamalek FC in the 1990s.
“Emmanuel! Emmanuel!!” shouted well-set security personnel who quickly offered a warm handshake.
“It is great to see you again.”
Another excited Zamalek fan actually came in tow with his family to welcome Amuneke’s Eaglets saying, he was so happy to meet the 1994 African Footballer of the Year again.
“I hope this is Emmanuel,” said the enthusiastic guy who brought along his son for a photo shot.
“I’m a great Zamalek fan and we cannot forget what Emmanuel did when he played for us and I want to wish you well.”
Similarly, Hassan El Shafey, a staunch Al Ahly fan and General
Manager at Sheraton Dreamland Hotel and Conference Centre, was equally elated on seeing Amuneke during lunch time on Thursday.
“You were wicked to us when you were playing for Zamalek but we love you dearly because you were such a great player; Emmanuel is half Egyptian!”