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Bosso and his misfiring Flying Eagles under pressure again

This is definitely another torrid moment for the Head Coach of the Flying Eagles, Ladan Bosso. Last Thursday, the Nigerian U20 boys’ national team suffered…

This is definitely another torrid moment for the Head Coach of the Flying Eagles, Ladan Bosso. Last Thursday, the Nigerian U20 boys’ national team suffered a 2-1 loss against the Hippos of Uganda at the ongoing African Games in Accra, Ghana. Expectedly, the defeat attracted wide condemnation from Nigerian football fans who are livid with the coach and his players for bringing shame to the country.

Surely, what is making most Nigerians angry is that Bosso is still the coach of the team. It is an open secret that most Nigerians are fed up with the longest serving manager of the team. In nearly two decades, he is yet to justify the confidence reposed in him by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). Each time the president of the Nigeria Football Coaches Association (NFCA) is given an opportunity to redeem himself, he fumbles.

Sometimes it appears as if he is harshly criticised, but Bosso is yet to prove his critics wrong at both club and national level. It is on record that the Niger State born coach had his best moment with the Flying Eagles in his first spell when he took the team to the quarter-finals of the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada. Apart from the fact that his team was disgraced in the last eight by Chile, he grabbed the headlines for the wrong reasons. After his infamous racism rant against English referee Howard Webb, he was fined and suspended by FIFA.

However, Bosso survived the setback and regained his position in 2009. Unfortunately, he failed to take the Flying Eagles to the final of that year’s AFCON. So, in as much as he managed to qualify the team for the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt, he was replaced with Samson Siasia who also failed to achieve anything meaningful with the team at the World Championship.

Eleven years later, Bosso, who is like a cat with nine lives, returned again in 2020 as coach of the Flying Eagles. His appointment attracted criticisms from most Nigerian football stakeholders who wondered why he was recalled despite his past failures. Despite unrelenting protests, he assumed his position and continued with what he knows best. Those opposed to his third coming were vindicated almost immediately when he failed to qualify the team to the AFCON in Mauritania. Still he retained his position and the Flying Eagles narrowly qualified for the 2023 FIFA World Cup in Argentina after his team finished third at the AFCON in Egypt.

At the World Cup in Argentina, his Flying Eagles improved slightly but failed to go beyond the quarter-final. It was another difficult moment for the coach. Deafening calls for his immediate sack went round the country but stopped at the gates into the NFF headquarters in Abuja. Therefore, it wasn’t surprising when the football federation again invited him to prepare the Flying Eagles for the ongoing African Games. In his usual manner, he assembled a team that isn’t a reflection of Nigeria’s football potential at this level.

It was, therefore, no surprise that the Flying Eagles fell to the more enterprising Ugandans. Well, Bosso and his boys are walking a tight rope at the African Games but it is not the end of the road for them because they still have three more matches to redeem themselves. Tomorrow, they will take on South Sudan in their second group match. Anything short of victory will spell doom for them because they will be up against the more formidable Junior Terranga Lions of Senegal and Tunisia in their remaining group matches.

Therefore, supporters of Bosso must fast and pray for him to prove his critics wrong by escaping an early exit from the games. Even if he is not going to break the 51 year African Games jinx, he must save what is left of his image by at least winning a silver medal. At the last African Games in Rabat, Nigeria finished second. It is on record that the only time Nigeria won the African Games gold was in 1973 when the country hosted the games in Lagos. Even when Nigeria hosted the games again in 2003 in Abuja, Cameroon denied us the gold medal. Therefore, Bosso and his misfiring Eagles must do something to redeem themselves.

Barrister Ezeaku’s historic debut in NPFL

The youngest Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) club administrator, Barrister Amobi Ezeaku, who is the General Manager and CEO of Enugu Rangers, recently realised his life-time ambition. The 34-year old made history as the first club manager to play in the NPFL when he debuted for Rangers in the 2-0 win away against struggling Niger Tornadoes. Surely, he didn’t only achieve his dream of professional football but he did so in style.

However, the history made wasn’t without a fuss as some football fans have questioned his decision to double as a player for Rangers. Those who have criticised him are of the opinion that Ezeaku is trying to distract himself from the good work he is doing for his club.

Within a short period, the UEFA and FIFA trained football administrator has transformed the ‘Flying Antelopes’ into title contenders. The lost glory of Enugu Rangers International is gradually returning to the Coal City.

Well, his new role appears a bit controversial but the NPFL has said it is neither a breach of its rules nor unprecedented. A statement from the NPFL said Ezeaku has met all the requirements to play in the league. Secondly, the league organisers said even the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Hon. Philip Shaibu once played for Bendel Insurance in the NNL.

Which means that a precedence was set even if it was a bad one, so nobody should crucify the latest debutant.

More support came for Ezeaku from his coach, Fidelis Ilechukwu, who said the striker has merited his place in the team. The coach denied being forced to accept his boss as a player. In fact, he said anytime the GM fails to measure up in training, he won’t come close to the reserve bench. So, based on Ilechukwu’s recommendation, the CEO/Striker of Rangers has a promising career ahead of him.

I am not opposed to the additional responsibility that Ezeaku has assigned to himself but I hope he will last the distance. This is because from the short video clip he posted on social media, I noticed that he did only two things in his debut appearance. According to the ref, he committed two fouls. After that he gulped chilled water. That summed up his performance as contained in the video clip.

If that was all he did, that wasn’t encouraging. But the league is a marathon, so Ezeaku has many more matches to silence his critics. Going by his training sessions, he means business but he should remember that the protection he enjoys in training will go missing in match situations. He will be like any other player in the NPFL and will be treated as such. His opponents no ‘go gree for him’.

 

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