✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters

One final chance for coach Bosso in Niamey

On Thursday, April 28, Nigeria’s national U-20 football team, the Flying Eagles jetted out of the country to Niamey, the capital of Niger Republic, for…

On Thursday, April 28, Nigeria’s national U-20 football team, the Flying Eagles jetted out of the country to Niamey, the capital of Niger Republic, for the West African Football Union (WAFU) Zone B championship. The cadet championship is the qualifier for the Africa U-20 Championship (junior AFCON), which in turn serves as the qualifier for the FIFA U-20 World Championship. 

Therefore, this year’s WAFU Zone B Championship billed to start on May 7 in Niamey is going to serve as qualifiers for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) U-20 championship to be staged in Egypt where the two semi-finalists would proceed to Indonesia to represent Africa at the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup. 

Undoubtedly, with seven African titles, Nigeria is the most illustrious nation in the youth championship but the general decline in the country’s football has caught up with the Flying Eagles whose last victory in the junior AFCON came in 2015 in Senegal under Coach Manu Garba. 

Therefore, Nigerians are anxious to see the Flying Eagles reach another AFCON final. However, to reach the land of the Pharaohs, they must first get to at least the semi-finals in Niamey. And to reach the last four, they must qualify from the group, which comprises familiar foes, Ghana and Burkina Faso.  

Charged with the responsibility of guiding the baby Eagles is no other person than Coach Ladan Bosso, the president of the Nigeria Football Coaches Association. 

He is the man who has been there several times but is yet to justify the confidence that Nigerian football authorities have continued to repose in him. It is on record that each time he was given the opportunity to lead the team, the Flying Eagles put up underwhelming performances. 

It is for this reason that when the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for the umpteenth time entrusted the team in the care of the Niger State-born football tactician, his appointment was received with mixed feelings. 

Having failed to qualify the Flying Eagles for the 2021 African U-20 championship in Mauritania, many people wondered why he was re-appointed by the same NFF that had sacked the Austin Eguavoen-led technical crew for its failure to qualify Nigeria for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

Despite the hues and cries that greeted his appointment, the out-spoken president of Nigerian coaches is already in Niamey with 30 players he has assembled to represent Nigeria in the 2023 AFCON qualifiers. 

Looking back, Bosso’s romance with the Flying Eagles started as far back as 2007 when he qualified the team for the FIFA World Cup in Canada but talked himself into trouble with FIFA when he openly accused referee Howard Webb of racism after Chile’s 4-0 whitewash of his team in extra-time of their quarter-final match. 

Consequently, the disciplinary committee of FIFA banned him from all football-related activities for four months for what it termed “offensive behaviour”.  He was also fined 11,000 Swiss francs for accusing Webb of racist behaviour during the match in Montreal. 

No doubt, the shambolic show in Canada came as a huge disappointment to Nigerians because, in 2015, the Samson Siasia-led Flying Eagles had won the Africa Championship in Benin Republic and reached the final of the FIFA World Cup in Holland, losing in an enchanting 2-1 final to Lionel Messi’s inspired Argentina. 

But instead of Bosso being sacked, he was retained as the coach of the team. However, it was another disappointing spell as the Flying Eagles finished third in the 2009 AFCON in Rwanda. 

Thus, he was sacked and Samson Siasia led the team to the World Cup in Egypt where the Flying failed to progress from Group C comprising Spain, Venezuela and Tahiti. 

It was after an 11-year hiatus that Boss was again appointed Flying Eagles coach in 2020 to the consternation of many Nigerians. As earlier stated, he failed to qualify the team for the 2021 AFCON in Mauritania. 

For many, Bosso has failed abysmally with the Flying Eagles and should be discarded but the NFF for inexplicable reasons has kept faith with him leaving Nigerian football stakeholders completely bewildered. 

The championship in Niamey, therefore, offers the coach another opportunity to redeem himself. Anything short of at least qualification for Egypt 2023 will be considered a failure.  

Although he is yet to win with the team, the former Wikki Tourists, Kano Pillars, Bayelsa United, El-Kanemi Warriors, Abia Warriors, FC IfeanyiUbah and Adamawa United manager is no doubt a workaholic gaffer who is never shy to stake his reputation. Soon after he was reappointed, he came up with a list of over 40 players for screening. 

The initial list was dominated by unknown academy boys. However, he later invited six additional talents from the NPFL to join the team. In three friendly matches, the hurriedly assembled team won all, scoring 10 goals and conceding four. 

However, the performance of the team didn’t conceal the fact that it was another fire-brigade approach for the Flying Eagles as they couldn’t practise together for up to a month. Meanwhile, their group opponents Ghana had camped for more than eight months preparatory to the championship. 

The Flying Eagles who left the shores of Nigeria on Thursday are to round up their camping with three more friendly matches in Niamey. But amidst growing scepticism, Bosso has assured Nigerians that his boys won’t fail them again. 

It is, therefore, hoped that his assurance won’t be in vain because this may be the last opportunity for him to redeem himself with the Flying Eagles. As a matter of fact, no indigenous coach has benefitted from NFF’s recycling policy like Bosso.