The current Super Eagles team, with their below-par form, has experienced several criticisms that link them to the 1994 squad
Former Super Eagles star, Emmanuel Amunike, recently shared his thoughts on the current Super Eagles squad and highlighted why it cannot be compared to the iconic 1994 squad, Soccernet.ng reports.
Speaking on the LovingFootball show on Radio Now 95.3 FM Lagos, the Super Eagles icon shed light on the evolution of football and the changes that have taken place over the years.
Under Steven Keshi’s leadership, the Nigerian Super Eagles won their last nation’s title in 2013, when they won the Africa Nations Cup.
Compared to the 1994 team, who shocked many European teams, established themselves among African teams by winning the title, and triumphed internationally by winning the Olympic title.
When comparing the two eras, the former Nigeria Under-17 coach claimed that the game back then cannot be compared to how it is today.
“You know, one thing in football is that if you look over the years, football has evolved a lot, and there have been a lot of changes in football,” Amunike said.
He added: “Every generation is totally different. When we came on board, I think it was when Nigerian football began to rise with the help of Stephen Keshi. May his soul rest in peace. That era opened the eyes of many Nigerian players who wanted to travel outside and have that experience. And when you look at that time, you could bring a player from even the local League to the national team, and they could fit in.”
“But over the years, the game has evolved, and what we have a lot to do is that we have not been able to aid our young players to be in a position to compete,” Emmanuel continued. “When I talk about competing, I personally, as a player, have always said that I can go anywhere and tell people I want to try for screening, and once you give me the opportunity, I will make the team. But all those things are no longer existing, so we need to develop our football.”
Emmanuel stressed the importance of tactical development in Nigerian football, stating, “Why am I saying we develop our football from a tactical point of view? For most of our players, it is true that we are talented, but I can guarantee you that talent cannot win you anything. If you are talented, there are other factors; there are other components that you need to complement with your talent to make you much better players.”
He continued, “When you talk about tactical decisions, tactics in decision-making, know where to lose the ball, where not to lose the ball, when to release the ball, and when not to release the ball. So when our younger players go through this process, they can start to see the game from different points of view. When I was coaching the under-17s, this was one of the factors I introduced to the team every week. We used to go to class three times a week.”
Emmanuel highlighted the misconception surrounding tactics, saying, “I want the players to really understand what tactics are. You know, we hear tactics, and even some people believe that tactics are just the system of the game, 442 or whatever we can call it. But you know the system of the game is just the initial stage to identify a player and where he will be functioning, but when you talk about tactics, you’re talking about the movement on the ball and off the ball, and how you defend as a team when you don’t have the ball.”
He further emphasized, “Also, how you attack as a team when you have the ball without losing the structure of the team. So all these things need to be taught, and this is where the Europeans are ahead of us because most of the young players in Europe were five or six years old. So by the time they got to 13 years old, they understood what the game was demanding from them.”
Emmanuel concluded by expressing his belief in the potential of Nigerian football, stating, “I think these are things that we are lacking, and if we can invest a little bit in this aspect, it will help our football because we are naturally talented as a country.”
The Super Eagles are currently on track to lock up their spot in the next Africa Cup of Nations competition as they are slated to face the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone.