Africa Cup of Nations: Tanzania must learn from exit, says Amuneke

Emmanuel Amuneke
Tanzania head coach Emmanuel Amuneke guided the Taifa Stars to their first Nations Cup since 1980

Tanzania's head coach Emmanuel Amuneke says the Africa Cup of Nations has been a real "eye-opener" for the Taifa Stars following an early exit in Egypt.

Tanzania, who competed in their first tournament since 1980, failed to progress to the knock-out stages and finished bottom of the group with three defeats.

For the former Nigeria and Barcelona winger, it was a telling reminder of how much football has evolved on the continental showpiece event.

"It's an eye-opener for Tanzanian football. We've not been at the tournament since 1980, a lot has happened in 39 years and the game has changed and continues to change," Amuneke told BBC Sport.

"What's important is to adapt to these changes and improve as a team. There are lots of lessons to pick.

"Our greatest undoing was our lack of experience. We are not experienced enough because we are used to playing football without so much pressure.

"But we've seen in this tournament that when you have the ball, a lot of teams put the pressure on you."

The East Africans showed promising signs against neighbours Kenya and despite never troubling Senegal and Algeria, they were never embarrassed.

Amuneke, who coached Nigeria to the 2015 Under-17 World Cup title, said his team would take some valuable lessons from their first big-tournament experience.

"We didn't show confidence or feel comfortable when in possession of the ball," Amuneke said.

"In every journey there's a process of learning. When we go back we need to look at ourselves from a holistic perspective and see how we can develop our football.

"It's obvious that right now in modern football, if you don't have the ability to compete you have no chance of winning - that's what happened to us.

The 1994 African Footballer of the Year, who has managed his country's youth teams and Sudanese club SC Khartoum, also believes the future is bright for Tanzanian football.

"I'm happy with my players, we all worked hard to be here, they didn't invite us we earned it," he added.

"If we continue with the same spirit, improve on what we've been doing I think we can grow as a team."

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