Atlanta 96 opened doors for Nigerian players – Amuneke

Emmanuel Amuneke

Former Super Eagles winger Emmanuel Amuneke has picked his winning goals in the finals of the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and the Atlanta 1996 goals as his best ever.

The 2015 U-17 World Cup winning coach disclosed to SpnAfrica that the goals would always be fresh in his memory.

Amuneke, before playing for Nigeria, was a cult figure in Egypt in the 1990s when he was with Zamalek, where he scored 26 goals in 71 appearances for The White Knights.

The former Julius Berger winger went on to play in Europe after quitting Zamalek and at the height of his career, he joined Barcelona in 1996 and scored one goal in 19 appearances for the Catalonians.

Amuneke said, “To be honest, I was surprised when the coach told me, I would start in the (1994 AFCON) final against Zambia.

“This was because the closest I had come to tasting action was during the quarter-final against Zaire when I was asked to warm-up.

“In the final, I was able to make a statement for myself and help my team by scoring our two goals.”

Also speaking on the Atlanta 1996 Olympics football games where Nigeria won the gold medal in the football event after defeating South America football powerhouses Brazil (semi-final) and Argentina (final), the former Albacete player said it was the tournament that opened doors for so many Nigerian players.

He said, “At that time, it was unheard of for an African team to win gold in the football event at the Olympics because it had never been done before.

“I was fortunate to score the winning goal in the final as we defeated Argentina 3-2.

“It was a tournament that opened doors for a lot of Nigerian players.”

The former Al Hazm assistant coach scored a total of 45 goals in his career with 158 appearances for his clubs. With the national team, he scored nine goals in 27 games.


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Written by Ceejhay

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