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Former FC Barcelona winger and coach of the Golden Eaglets, Emmanuel Amuneke got a surprise “44 ballon salute’ as he celebrated his 44, birthday on Christmas day after the team’s the early morning session at the NFF/FIFA Goal Project in Abuja.
Amuneke who got a brace at the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations final against Zambia was astonished as the NFF’s Assistant Director(Technical), Coach Siji Lagunju led the players in a fine rendition of the famous birthday song:’ he’s a good jolly fellow.
“This is a coup because all I wanted today was to train in continuation of our preparation towards Niger 2015. I’m really humbled by your show of love to me on this special day,”a shell-shocked Amuneke said.
With the morning activities rounded off, Team Amuneke mostly made up of Golden Eaglets officials beat Golden Eaglets’ possible 4-1 in a novelty match full of fun and drama.
Tayo Egbaiyelo (MON), 2013 World Cup-winning secretary, got the curtain raiser for Team Amuneke when he converted from the spot kick barely 10 minutes into the 40-minute encounter. Three minutes later, Golden Eaglets’ medical official, Dr. Deji Olarinoye (MON) -famously called NFA,-got the second goal courtesy of another spot Kick that beat a badly positioned goalkeeper Clinton Orji.
Meanwhile, winger Ndu Chinedu gave the opposing side hope few minutes to the end of the first half with a well-taken goal as goalkeeper Amos Benjamin watched the ball sailed into the net.
In the second half, birthday boy and former Barcelona winger, Amuneke crowned an impressive day with his team’s third goal albeit from the spot yet again.
Golden Eaglets’ defender, Bamidele Ayodeji who was loaned to Team Amuneke from the Eaglets’ probable scored the last goal to the delight of everyone.
“Today would remain a special day in our lives because it marked the birthday of coach Amuneke when we are in camp,” said defender Lukman Halilu after the players were feted with food and soft drinks .
“Coach Amuneke is an inspiration to all of us because he is a no-nonsense person who wants only the best for us and by the grace of God, we shall do our best in Niger 2015 to give him a present for this special day,” he stated.
Lagunju, meanwhile, heaped praises on Amuneke for his sterling qualities both as a former player and coach.
“I always knew that Emmanuel would be a great player because he has remained disciplined and humbled since I first met him in 1991.Though he would say his mind when he feel strongly about any issue, he has remained level headed over the years.
“I want to use this opportunity to thank all the technical crew and back room staff for the unity in the U-17 and may God bless your efforts in Niger and Chile in 2015,”said Lagunju who star for Leventis United and Iwuayanwu Nationale in his heyday.