Former Super Eagles assistant coach Emmanuel Amuneke has opened up on the challenges the Golden Eaglets went through before their victory at the U-17 World Cup in Chile in 2015.
Amuneke led the Eaglets to their fifth U-17 victory to become the most successful team at the tournament ahead of Brazil, who have won the title four times.
Speaking in an interview programme, Kick&Follow, where football stars discuss topical issues in Nigerian football, the former Tanzania national team coach revealed that his team left the shores of the country without proper kits for the tournament.
“I knew what I went through with the U-17 at the World Cup we went to in Chile but I am somebody who doesn’t come out to blame others for his failures.
“We went to the World Cup in Chile without kits but we were able to manage the whole scenario.
“As a coach and leader, it is never my way to transmit negative thoughts to my players. We got to Chile and we didn’t even have winter shirts and it was very cold. I was very worried as a coach because if the players got sick how do we get the job done.
“Luckily from the embassy they brought in some clothes for the players to at least have something to keep them warm. The boys kept training because they were determined.
Nobody believed that we were going to win; some even said the players were not good enough.
“We left Nigeria wearing slippers and at the airport, I remembered an immigration officer asked if these were the players representing Nigeria. Things were worse in Chile because there were no cloth to keep us warm and it was very cold and I asked what we were going to do.
“The money that FIFA gave the players which was $100 each, I collected it from the players with the team secretary and we bought some clothes for the players to keep them warm because that was the only thing we could do as at that time.
“But I wore just a t-shirt and if you check all the pictures in training during the tournament I wore just a green and black shirt under the cold weather because I had to transmit confidence into the players.”
He added, “The players even came to tell me before our game against Brazil that the Brazilians were laughing at them because they were not dressed properly. I said to them that they had to laugh at them on the pitch the next day and the only way they can do that is by beating them.”