Are Flying Eagles Ready For U-20 World Cup Glory After Afcon Bronze?
"Bronze medal is better than nothing." Sports Minister Dare.
I concur, actually.
Coming home with Bronze medals is worthy consolation for not reaching the final of this Under 20 Afcon. But, for me, will Bosso get to have another bite of the Flying Eagles cherry in future?
But maybe I am getting ahead of myself. Let's hope the Big Guns in the Glass House don't press the panic button and give Bosso his marching orders. After all, he qualified the team for the World Cup which was the primary mission.
Against Tunisia in this third place playoff, Bosso boys turned up the heat and made mince meat of their opponents in a 4:0 demolition job.
But, despite the mammoth scoreline, something about their pattern of play still left a sour taste in my mouth.
All the goals had elements of brute force and share physicality which - I maintain - will be tamed by more technically gifted oppositions who themselves aren't a slouch physically.
Apart from the goals, their overall movements, pattern, choreograhy, rhythm and interplay didn't always translate as being pretty.
But the perennial Flying Eagles gaffer does not seem to mind.
"Sometimes playing ugly is a tactic", said Ladan Bosso recently. "All you need is to dispossess your opponent of the ball, score and come defend it.” He concluded.
I am glad he said "sometimes". It seemed to me like the Flying Eagles played ugly football throughout this tournament. But, that is really, really harsh of me to which I apologise unreservedly to Bosso and his boys.
That said, I still think they need to go into their training room kitchen and prepare a more palatable brand of football for Nigeria fans to feast on at the World Cup because what they played in Egypt was not the most tasty of varieties.
It lacked excitement, suspense or moments of magic. It is not at all memorable and the highlights are not at all rewatchable. I can't recall many deft moments to rave about. It was all just predictable, practical and ponderous.
It has to go down as one of the most unattractive brands of football played by a Flying Eagles team.
But one thing you can't take away from them is their excellent work ethics. None of the players were passagers. They all put in 110% efforts towards achieving their goal.
They played like a team and they helped each other out in tight situations. They had camaraderie and in truth, their loss to Gambia in the semi finals seemed cruel with them not having the rub of the green on that day. They really gave it their all and their dedication and patriotism can never be questioned.
With a bit more quality in key areas and Bosso getting help in the more tactical elements of the game, who knows, the Flying Eagles might walk on water in Indonesia.
For now, congratulations to the team for their podium finish in Egypt. Who knows, a podium finish at the World Cup with 'ugly football' might be tolerated and even celebrated by Nigeria fans.
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