Amuneke laments Flying Eagles’ failure to qualify for Africa U-20 Championship
National U-20 football team coach, Emmanuel Amuneke, was left rooted to his chair at the final whistle of the African U-20 Championship qualifier in Lagos, which his wards lost 4-3 to their Sudanese counterparts.
The game was supposed to be a ‘walk over’ following Nigeria’s 2-1 defeat of the same team in Khartoum two weeks ago. But the Sudanese showed the partisan Lagos crowd that games were not won until the last whistle.
Stunned by the outcome of the game, Amuneke could not find his voice as reporters gathered around him to find out what went wrong. When he finally composed himself, the former FC Barcelona star, who won the U-17 FIFA World Cup two years ago with a team made up of 70 per cent of the boys that played against Sudan at the Teslim Balogun Stadium on Saturday, blamed hard luck for their misadventure.
He told The Guardian that the Flying Eagles gave their best to carry the day, but mother luck was not on their side, adding that missing the African championship would impact negatively on Nigerian football.
Amuneke, however, pleaded with Nigerians not to write off the Flying Eagles, stressing that the team has talented players, who will make their mark in Nigerian football in future.
“Having won the first leg in 2-1 away, the boys gave all they had to beat Sudan at home, but it was quit unfortunate that we did no qualify for the African championship next year. Things like this happen in football… we cannot apportion blames to anybody at this point. All we need to do is to put this behind us and see how we can move forward. I plead with Nigerians to be calm, The Flying Eagles desire was to qualify for the AFCON and make a mark in the championship,” he said
The Sudanese 4-3 victory on a sodden Teslim Balogun Stadium gave them the ticket via the away goals rule as aggregate scores stood at 5-5.This is the second time this year a Nigerian national team will fail to qualify for a continental championship following the Super Eagles’ failure to make the Gabon 2017 African Nations Cup.