The football great suggests he was quoted out of context in the video that has thrown social media into a frenzy
Former Barcelona winger, Emmanuel Amuneke, has cleared the air on his choice of Mohamed Salah over Victor Osimhen when African legends were asked about their pick for the 2023 African Player of the Year crown, Soccernet.ng reports.
In the viral video posted on CAF’s social media handles prior to the announcement, the former Super Eagles forward voiced his preference for the Egypt and Liverpool star.
That sparked a backlash among Nigerians as the 52-year-old was tagged as ‘unpatriotic’ while some felt he was being envious of the Napoli star – who emerged as Africa’s best having overcome Salah and Morocco star Achraf Hakimi.
Amid the rage, Amuneke had little patience with the undermining comments from his countrymen, while insinuating that he was quoted out of context.
“Good morning house, I want to use this opportunity to clear what some of you are saying in this platform. With all due respect to every one of you that I owe with high regard,” the 1994 African Player of the Year said on Nigerian Sports Village Square moderated by veteran journalist Osasu Obayiuwana.
“First of all, I want you to understand the rumours that you guys are [spreading] concerning me not voting Osimhen. I was never elected to vote.
“On our way to the novelty game that we played in Marrakech here, a former player and captain of the Egyptian national team – who is preparing himself to become a TV producer in Egypt – with his group, he was debating on the Arabian team, and he raised the question between Hakimi and Salah.
“There was a time Osimhen was mentioned in that discussion. He came to me and asked ‘Hakimi or Salah’. I have to say Salah. And the reason why I said Salah was because I played in Egypt, I lived in Egypt and I know some of the guys there.”
For context, Osimhen was part of Amuneke’s Nigeria U17 squad that won the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup. There, the Lagos-born goal machine scooped the Golden Boot and Silver Ball honours.
Amuneke continued: “So, there is nothing like voting against Osimhen. Osimhen is our player and our boy. We are happy about what he has achieved, and we hope he would continue to dream and achieve more for the betterment of his career and the betterment of Nigeria.
“It has come to a time in our culture in Nigeria – with all due respect to you guys, we should stop spreading false news and stop creating false impressions among the people. We are journalists, and our responsibility is to inform the public what is right.”
Osimhen, 24, scored 31 goals in 39 matches for the Italian side last season as they won their first Serie A title since 1990.
He joins Rasheed Yekini, Amuneke, Nwankwo Kanu and Victor Ikpeba in the hallowed ranks of Nigerians to have claimed the award.