Former Nigerian international and coach of Tanzania national men’s team, Emmanuel Amuneke is banking on hard work plus support from local fans when he leads his side out to play in Egypt.
The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is only three days away from kicking off, with the Taifa Stars set to take on the Teranga Lions of Senegal in their opening game on Sunday.
Amuneke, who led Nigeria U17 team to win the 2015 U17 World Cup in Chile, helped Tanzania make it to finals for the first time in 39 years after they thrashed Uganda 3-0 on the final matchday of the qualifiers.
During his playing career, the one-time African Player of the Year, played for Cairo-based team Zamalek between 1991-1994 winning two league titles before moving to Portugal.
“I am really glad to be coming back here (Cairo) because this is like a second home to me. I made great memories here,” Amuneke told the Caf website.
“Egyptians will definitely come to support me but our objective is to prepare well because even if they support you but we don’t do the right thing on the pitch it will have no meaning. But it will be good to enjoy the support from the local fans.”
Tanzania have been drawn in Group C alongside Senegal, neighbours Kenya and Algeria at the continental showpiece, but Amuneke is not having sleepless nights over the draw.
He said: “It’s a good draw. We have to be realistic. All teams who made it here are all good and no team came here without fighting. If you are here, you must be ready to play anyone. You can’t wish for an easy group. All 24 teams are tough.
“Kenya and Tanzania are like brothers. There is a lot of mutual respect between Kenya and Tanzania and I know we will play some good football and showcase East African football to the rest of the world.
“This is the first time that four nations from East Africa have qualified for the Afcon and it shows that football in the region is growing. I am hoping we all can do well.”
The AFCON will hold between June 21 and July 2019, with 24 teams battling for the title in Egypt.