New coach Radhi Jaidi and new Nigeria signing Anayo Iwuala reveal Esperance ambitions

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Radhi JaidiNew Esperance coach Radhi Jaidi

New coach Radhi Jaidi and latest signing from Nigeria Anayo Iwuala are aiming for success in Tunisia with four-time African champions Esperance.

After his playing days and cutting his teeth as youth coach at Southampton, he was named head coach of American second tier side Hartford Athletic before progressing to assistant coach at Belgian side Cercle Brugge.

"I'm very excited to rejoin Esperance as a head coach and this is a dream come true," the 45-year-old told BBC Sport Africa.

"The last 10 to 11 years since my retirement, I've worked tirelessly to get myself into this level.

"Along with my qualifications [Uefa Pro, leadership and management programs], I gained enough experience and knowledge to take this opportunity with confidence.

"I aspire to take the club to the next level, this is a big challenge, but the will and desire are in the stakeholders minds."

Having played at the top level in his native Tunisia and won the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations, Jaidi established himself in England by becoming a fans' favourite at Bolton, Birmingham City and Southampton.

The first African to win all four of the continent's annual Cup competitions, the Caf Champions League, Cup Winners' Cup, Caf Cup and Super Cup, is confident he can add to Esperance's 31 league titles and continental success.

"With a mix of my background as a Tunisian born and experienced the highest level in Europe, I can tackle the right areas to improve, but also keep the right winning mentally in this group of staff and players," he added.

"My objective is to succeed with the club and win titles the way we want to play."

Launch pad

Nigeria's Anayo IwaulaAnayo Iwaula in action Nigeria against Mexico in July

In the last two decades, the North African club served as a launching pad for some notable Nigerians like Garba Lawal, Julius Aghahowa, Obinna Nwaneri and Michael Eneramo, who have all played for the team before sealing moves away from the continent.

And this week, the 'Blood and Gold' continue the trend by snapping up fast rising Nigeria international winger Anayo Iwuala from Enyimba on a three-year deal.

The 22-year-old's transfer comes at the back of a breakthrough season in the Nigeria Professional League (NPFL), which has led to five appearances with the Super Eagles under Gernot Rohr.

"It's a huge privilege to join such a great club like Esperance who have continental titles to show as part of their success story," he told BBC Sport Africa

"It was an easy choice to come to Esperance, they are four times African champions. A big cub with an incredible culture, the professionalism and modern facilities, the welfare, tradition and standard of operation are quite attractive."

The switch is a big relief for the player who was initially valued at €1 million euros by the management of Enyimba and caught in the middle of a controversial comments made by Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) boss Amaju Pinnick which suggested that locally-based internationals should not join smaller overseas clubs.

But Iwuala is excited to follow in the footsteps of compatriots, who made the move from the domestic league to Esperance, like Valentine Nwabili, Emem Eduok and Junior Lokosa.

With the desire to impress Jaidi, the exciting winger hopes his performance at the Stade Olympique de Rades with the Ligue Professionnelle 1 outfit will lead to more international opportunities.

"From my position [playing in Nigeria] once I saw a chance here with the club I decided to grab the opportunity," he insisted.

"I need to focus on the job, helping the team achieve more success and that remains the main priority of every professional footballer.

"I also look forward to working with coach Radhi Jaidi and prove myself under him. That is the immediate target for now.

"I don't know if coming here will further help me establish myself in the Super Eagles, but I know I will give my best here and that's all I can do for now."

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