Tanzania coach Emmanuel Amuneke admits leading the Taifa Stars is a challenge but his team is ready to build.
The former Nigeria international is now preparing to face Cape Verde in Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in October.
The 1994 Caf African Footballer of the Year is confident he has the strategy to lead Tanzania to a first Nations Cup finals since 1980.
“Being the head coach of the Tanzania senior team is a challenging job,” he told BBC Sport.
“Hopefully, we do our best and I believe that hard work is a non-negotiable term in whatever we do in life. You just have to do what you know best.”
The Taifa Stars are Amuneke’s first role as coach of a senior national team and he began with a goalless draw in neighbouring Uganda in a 2019 Nations Cup qualifier.
“We achieved our objective. We were clear with what we want to do and we worked towards it.
“I am proud of the players – I had only spent 10 days with the team and we could see the character in the team.
“I told them that we were coming here to fight and that is exactly what we saw.”
While the 47-year-old, who won the Nations Cup as a player in 1994 with Nigeria, was happy with his first result he knows there is more work to be done.
“What we actually want to do is to continue to look at our teams and the areas we can continue to grow,” he continued.
“The four teams in that group all have one ambition and the objective is to make it to the Nations Cup.
“Every game is totally different. Every game comes with different challenges and a different approach.”
“What we are doing is to be realistic and be truthful to ourselves as a team, look at the areas we want to improve and look at the areas we have been doing good and continue to improve on that.”
Ahead of their back-to-back games against Cape Verde the Taifa Stars are on two points from their two Nations Cup qualifiers after a 1-1 draw with visiting Lesotho last year.
Amuneke, who also played for Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon and Zamalek in Egypt, made a name at youth level with Nigeria.
He was an assistant when Nigeria won the 2013 Under-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and was head coach when they retained their title two years later in Chile.
With Tanzania set to host the 2019 Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations and having already organised a regional qualifier for the tournament Amuneke is already putting his past experiences to good use.
Tanzania’s under-17 side competed in the qualifying event, despite having qualified for the finals as hosts, and finished third after losing to eventual champions Uganda 3-1 in the semi-final.
“I was not involved directly (with the under-17 qualifiers) but I was using the avenue to see the level of the team and to see what can be injected, how we can improve,” he explained.
“The most important thing is that we shall be one of the teams that will be at the finals. The under-17 journey is a very, very long journey.”
The next step on Amuneke’s journey is a trip to face Cape Verde in mid-October.
Original article published at BBC By Usher Komugisha Football Writer