Nigeria won the second of her three African Cup of Nations titles in Tunisia thanks to a brilliant double by the former Zamalek FC star in the final match 26 years ago.
Ex-Barcelona ace Emmanuel Amuneke has looked back at his 11-year playing career and picked out his two goals against Zambia at the Tunisia ’94 as one of his football achievements.
An exceptional Nigeria team managed by Dutch tactician Clemens Westerhoff had brushed aside Gabon, Egypt, Zaire (now, Congo DR), and Ivory Coast to make it to the title-deciding match undefeated.
Waiting in the final in Tunis was the tournament’s surprise package, Zambia. The Chipolopolo team had only been recently constituted, following an air disaster in which eighteen players and several staff members of the previous team had been killed.
Elijah Litana handed the underdogs a third-minute lead to set Zambians dreaming of a fairy tale first Afcon trophy.
All eyes were on Rashidi Yekini – tournament’s top goalscorer with five goals – to bail Nigeria out of trouble. But it was Amuneke, starting his first game of the competition, who equalized in the 5th minute and netted the winner early in the second half to lift his team past their West African neighbours.
While reliving the final in a chat with Goal, the former Sporting Lisbon ace recognized it as a career-defining moment.
“Not playing any game and playing in the final and scoring the two goals that gave us the cup is a big achievement.
“I only did my part as a player because any other player could have done the same if given the opportunity. One thing about that team was that we had great players because those on the bench were superb.
“Scoring the two goals was a signal to the coaches that they could count on me. [Rashidi] Yekini, [Jay-Jay] Okocha, Finidi [George], Oliseh [Oliseh], [Samson] Siasia or [Daniel] Amokachi could have scored, but I delivered a brace which I regard as a blessing from God because that helped me cement my place in the team.”