SACKED Taifa Stars Head Coach Emmanuel Amunike has said the team has been drawn in tough group but remained optimistic that Tanzania can make it into the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals.
The Nigerian legend also wished the team all the best of luck in the coming campaign, saying preparations should start early.
According to the draw conducted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), in Cairo Egypt on Thursday evening, Taifa Stars are pooled in group J together with Tunisia, Libya and Equatorial Guinea.
In an exclusive interview with the ‘Sunday News’ during Dar es Salaam Gymkhana Club (DGC) soccer team friendly match against BancABC at club ground in the city on Friday evening, Amunike said that Taifa Stars have been drawn in a tough group but said the team can make it to the finals if they work hard.
“It is a tough group, to play against top teams like Tunisia and Libya… I cannot say it is an easy task, but I know everything is possible with hard work,” he said. Amunike noted that Taifa Stars can build from where they finished at this year’s AFCON finals in Egypt.
He said that the team still has a lot to offer and all that is needed is to come up with collective plans as a nation to forge ahead.
The Nigerian coach guided Stars to return to major continental showpiece after 39 years’ absence, but ended up losing all three group matches.
They lost 2-0 to Senegal, Kenya (3-2) and Algeria (3-0) altogether, results that forced the Tanzania Football federation (TFF) to part ways with him.
“They have to make an effort to build themselves under new coach. It is possible to return to the final again if they work together as a group and build from where we finished in Cairo,” he said.
Amunike also thanked TFF for giving him opportunity to be part of the national team, saying it was a great honour. “I’m happy to be given opportunity to be part of the team, it is an honour for me and I wish them all the best.”
Amunike was among DGC players in the Friday’s friendly match at DGC ground against BancABC Tanzania Ltd that ended in a 1-1 draw.
Bank ABC was first to score through Morrison Ngowo in the first half before Daudi Aboud pulled level for the home side in the second half. Amunike expressed his excitement to join veteran players at the DGC.
“It is privilege for me to be welcomed here, it is good to train and do exercises after work. I want to encourage others to do the same,” he said. DGC soccer section captain Roger Lamlembe said his team and club were pleased to have Amunike on their side.
He said that Amunike’s presence motivated all players. “It is good to have him (Amunike) with us hear… he is a reputable coach. He has definitely helped elevate our club’s profile and also helped us a lot to build our team technically,” said Lamlembe.
He said Amunike has been a friend to everyone in the team and help players to improve their game. DGC is one of the East Africa biggest clubs that offers soccer ground, 18 holes golf course, snooker room, darts, tennis, cricket squash and mini- Olympic Swimming pool.