Former U17 national team coach Emmanuel Amuneke believes many new generation ex-internationals who are now coaches steer clear of Nigeria Professional Football League jobs because domestic clubs and players are steeped in a culture that promotes shortcuts to success.
While noted ex-internationals from the old generation including Christian Chukwu and Kadiri Ikhana enjoyed long and storied careers with Nigerian clubs, the same cannot be said of the younger generation.
That is not to say famous new school former footballers have never coached in the league.
Amuneke himself has some experience coaching domestic teams having taken charge of Julius Berger and Ocean Boys after hanging his boots.
Moreover, former Super Eagles coaches Samson Siasia and Augustine Eguavoen have also coached in the league at various times in the past but often speak of their time with domestic clubs with disillusionment.
While many former players have obtained coaching licenses in the hope of taking the plunge into coaching and management, there appears to be little enthusiasm on their part to coach in the NPFL.
In fact, a recurring criticism of many former players turned coaches is that they’d rather wait for national team coaching jobs or remain unemployed rather than take charge of a domestic club.
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And Amuneke who has also coached Nigeria’s U20 side says there is a good reason for this.
The 49-year-old former Tanzania coach says ex-players of his ilk who are now coaches are put off by the ingrained mentality in domestic clubs and players that eschews hard work and propagates an acceptance of unmerited success.
Having coached in the league, Amuneke the structure of domestic clubs and the psychological rigidity of players makes coaching domestically an unattractive prospect for internationally-exposed former footballers.
The 1994 CAF African Footballer of the Year says a total shift in mentality is to make coaching in the NPFL attractive to ex-internationals.
“It’s not that the ex-internationals, those that are involved in coaching do not want to come and coach in the league, but there are a lot of factors,” Amuneke told Lagos-based radio station Lagos Talks.
“You and I know there [are] a lot of ways of people reasoning. Nobody in Nigeria, let us be frank with ourselves, even the generation that is coming, none of them believe that it’s true hard work you achieve success.
“Everybody wants to have it cheap, everybody wants to make it easy, everybody believes if I’m playing at home I must win, if I’m going away, the players already have it in mind that going away is like losing the game.
“So, things have to be done in the right way. Will people allow you to come with your ideas? Because they will tell you, he’s coming here with a bad mentality. So, there are a whole lot of factors.”
Amuneke has enjoyed quite a stellar career as a player and coach.
He has coached Sudanese club SC Khartoum and also coached Tanzania’s Taifa Stars who he led to the group stage of 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt
The former Zamalek of Egypt winger was the assistant coach when Nigeria won the FIFA U17 World Cup trophy for a record fourth time in the United Arab Emirates in 2013.
He then led the Golden Eaglets to a record-extending fifth title in Chile two years later, a feat which earned him a promotion to coach the U20 side the Flying Eagles.
As a player, the former Barcelona ace was an integral part of the most storied Super Eagles team of all time.
He scored both goals in the final of the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia where Nigeria beat Zambia 2-1 to secure their second African title.
He was also part of the Super Eagles team at the 1994 World Cup – scoring memorable goals against Bulgaria and Italy.
Amuneke re-enacted his Tunisia 94 heroics by scoring the winner again as Nigeria shocked Argentina 3-2 in the 1996 Olympic football final in Atlanta to become the first African football nation to win Olympic gold.
He is currently Director of the Academy at Egyptian Premier League side Misr El-Makasa after leaving his role as manager of the club after just three matches.