The first African coach to win a European league title Emmanuel Ndubuisi Egbo believes the Super Eagles of Nigeria can challenge for the FIFA World Cup trophy.
Coach Egbo who won the Albanian top-flight league title with KF Tirana with two games left and qualified the team for the UEFA Champions League, made history by becoming the first from the continent to achieve such feat.
The 46-year-old who was a guest on Channels TV’s Sports described his success as a celebration for all Africans.
“I believe it’s not just a celebration for me, it’s a celebration for all Africans, all Nigerians, all the black race everywhere.
“They are responsible for this wonderful amazing feat we succeeded in doing far away from my home country in a foreign land.
“It is still sinking down because I was doing my job just to train my team to try to win the league after 11 years away not winning the league and I didn’t know until when we won the league that when the news open and then I got to know that I am the first African, the first Nigerian to do this feat and it has been a wonderful time,” He said.
After winning the title, coach Egbo says he is hungry for more success and his attention now is to win the last two league games of the season and also clinch the FA Cup, a title KF Tirana last won in 1999.
“We are not celebrating yet; we still have two games in the league to finish and then we will receive the medal and the trophy on the 29th of this month and then we have the finals of the FA Cup on the 2nd of August so I’m still in a celebratory mood but I want to win the doubles,” he said.
The former Super Eagles goalkeeper took charge of KF Tirana when the club was in eight position after two managers failed to turn around the fortunes of the club.
Prior to his appointment, the Nigerian has been with the club for six years as an assistant coach and goalkeeper trainer.
Having won the league title, league cup and super cup with the team as a player, his desire was to win a title for the team.
He revealed, “ I know how I felt winning it as a player though it was not an easy task; the team was in the relegation zone, we were down and out psychologically and otherwise, our turnaround was winning the derby and went on to win 16 games with just a draw, a record in the league.”
He is now looking forward to extending his contract with the club.
“I was given three games in December pending on the appointment of another coach, normally that’s what I do anytime a coach is sack I come in as a caretaker. When I won all three games, they said it can’t be possible to bring another coach since none of their previous coaches have won three consecutive games and so I was given the job until the end of the season.
“We are now in discussion for a new contract before the end of the season we will hear another news about renewing or extending the contract.’’
Coaching is a very tasking job and doing it in a foreign country comes with many obstacles, as a result, former players are more comfortable with taking a coaching job with the national teams but for coach Egbo, overcoming the challenges must come with sacrifice, hard work and belief.
“It is not that they won’t have problems or issues, but they need to believe in themselves because that’s very important. The more they try to stop you, you have to give more confidence to yourself to do more,” he added.
“That’s exactly what happened to me, it was not an easy task for me, being a foreigner and also being a black coach. Though I had wonderful support from the fans, but as they said in every 12, there is always a Judah.
“There are people who don’t want you to achieve anything or succeed but those are the people that help you more if you take the positives out of their criticism you don’t need to allow it to bring you down, fight more to prove that you can do it. If I can do it, then any African coach can do it.”
Coach Egbo represented Nigeria 12 times and was part of the team that featured in the 2000 and 2002 Africa Cup of Nations where the Super Eagles won silver and bronze respectively.
He is open to coaching the national team and feels the Eagles should go to the World Cup with the aim of winning the trophy.
“I’m 100% Nigerian even though I have a European passport. I got everything in Nigeria and I played at the highest level so anytime I’m called upon to come and help, to raise the football of my country up, I will be here because I want us one day to be challenging to win the World Cup.
“I’m always open; we can never say never to our country, it’s like a military service that anytime we are called, upon we have to do it for our country,” he explained.