His celebrations are as legendary as the goals he scored for the Super Eagles. Nigerian legend Daniel Amokachi, who won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations, and the 1996 Olympic Games gold medal with the Super Eagles is in Cameroon as part of CAF Technical Study Group (TSG) for the ongoing Total African Nations Championship (CHAN).
CAFOnline.com talked to Amokachi on his thoughts about the current edition of the tournament designed exclusively for domestic based footballers.
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CAFOnline.com: How do you see the level of competition of the current CHAN?
Daniel Amokachi: The competition started very slowly. If you are involved in the football world, you will know that it is a little bit because of the COVID-19, as most of the leagues were stopped. They started operating a few months ago and only a few have played more than one game. So, the players’ fitness level is understandable. But from matchday 2, I think everything started to go up.
What about the participating teams?
Now we can see the quality of the teams and players. I covered Groups B and C and was able to appreciate some players’ individual qualities. No team really stood out, and for me especially it was in the last group match that Morocco really showed the quality it has. And Uganda is a team that really surprised me. I thought before the start of the tournament that Togo would be the one to stand out because I saw the way they dominated Nigeria home and away un the qualifiers. But in the finals, they did not show up, maybe because of this COVID- 19 related disruption.
How do you see the difference between the current teams and the previous ones?
I think there are a lot of differences and in terms of football quality. From a coaching perspective, I can see many players lacking confidence. I have always said that we Africans should respect our tradition. We have skills, speed and strength but why do we use the tactics of the Europeans? For example, when Brazil struggled in the 1950s, they changed the way they played saying “This is not how we play football. Our football is all about skill and technique, so let’s dribble and play our way.” And when they did, they won the World Cup in succession, and they continue to play their football until today.
And what’s the solution in your opinion?
We should embrace our tactics and technique in Africa. When we Africans want to play football, we play football. Coaches should be flexible and allow players to express themselves on the pitch while maintaining discipline.
What’s your favorite team in this tournament?
I think the team that stood out was Mali. Morocco maybe one of the favorites but they did not start the competition well until they showed they have the capacity to win in their last game. Zambia on a good day can be favorites, just like Rwanda who are a team that no one saw coming. Of course, hosts Cameroon can take advantage of the 12t man. They have a certain quality, but they should have less pressure. But if you ask me to choose one team, I will just choose Mali.
Which player did you find interesting?
It would be too early to pick one and say that this player is better than the rest. Some players have quality, but I was not touched yet. We have to see the next two games because they have the capacity to go high.
What to expect for the rest of the tournament?
The level is rising so we shouldn’t expect anything less than what we have seen in the last matches of the group stages. All the qualified teams were known on the last day. We must expect good football. And hopefully the players will be spared from the pandemic at the risk of missing out on the competition.