Tunisia ’94 Africa Cup of Nations winner Emmanuel Amuneke says the Super Eagles must be bold to give themselves a chance of making an impact at the summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
Nigeria are drawn in the Brazil 2014 World Cup Group F along with the 1978 and 1986 champions Argentina, debutants Bosnia-Herzegovina and Asian giants Iran.
The Eagles will open their campaign in the tournament against Iran at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba on June 16 and 1994 African Footballer of the Year Amuneke is backing Nigeria for a strong start.
But he maintains the Eagles must be prepared for the challenge ahead of them, saying they need boldness to seal their place in the next round of the championship.
“Yes, we don’t have world-class players like Brazil, Spain and Argentina but we can still make an impact in the World Cup if our players don’t underestimate themselves,” the Atlanta’ 96 Olympic Games gold medallist told our correspondent on the telephone.
“We must get the best out of the players we have because we can’t go to other countries to get players for the World Cup.
“The Eagles must be bold in their approach to their matches and must not feel inferior to their opponents.
“There must be a teamwork approach to our games in the tournament.
“We shouldn’t give up because we are playing against the likes of (Lionel) Messi and (Cristiano) Ronaldo.
“Were Messi and Ronaldo not born by human beings?
“We can beat Argentina or any of the big teams in the World Cup if we are determined and play as a team.”
The former Sporting Lisbon star, who scored two goals (against Bulgaria and Italy) at the USA ’94 World Cup, called for support for Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi and his charges.
“If we work hard, we’ll achieve something in Brazil , “ the former Barcelona winger added.
“We must maintain focus and avoid setting target for ourselves in the competition.
“In fact, we should stop talking about winning the World Cup or reaching the semifinals, but instead we should go step by step.
“Our chances depend on our preparation for the competition and we must prepare very hard.”
Amuneke says Keshi should be allowed to decide if Stoke City’s Osaze Odemwingie and Villarreal’s Ikechukwu Uche are relevant to his plans for Brazil 2014, warning against forcing any player on his former Eagles’ teammate.
“Keshi knows what he wants,” the new Golden Eaglets coach said.
“If he believes they are good enough for the World Cup, he should include them in his squad for the tournament.
“On the other hand, if Keshi feels they are not better than the players he has for the World Cup, we shouldn’t force him to take those he doesn’t want.
“Personally, I believe Osaze and Uche are good enough for the World Cup but I will respect Keshi’s decision because he knows the tactics he wants to play and the players that suit his style of play.”
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