Is Bosso a Master Tactician and a Hero For Clinching World Cup Qualification in Egypt?
Since the Wafu Zone B U-20 tournament last year, Coach Bosso was never shy to admit his team's midfield inadequacies against more compact and better drilled oppositions. Hence he elected for route one football whenever chips were down which contributed to the team's Wafu success.
With the time he has had to prime the team for this Afcon, I would have expected him to address this 'elephant in his midfield-room" but alas the pot-hole remains.
So, yesterday against Uganda, the plan of the Flying Eagles was predicated on going long and high and also taking pot-shots from long range.
Again, the proof was in the pudding as a long ball from the left fullback travelled above the entire Ugandan midfield and defence apparatus, landing kindly for Nigeria's winger whose shot cannoned of the post and a hapless Ugandan player before nestling in the net.
1:0 to Nigeria.
With so much hype surrounding the Ugandan team, they could not fashion out an equaliser with a whole 60 minutes of football left to play.
But, but, Uganda carved out some neat and beautiful moments of scoring chances and clever and commendable interplay of passes that saw them perforate Nigeria's defense deep inside the 18 yard box. Only weak and feeble shots from their strikers on key moments saved the day for Nigeria.
Such delicate, neat and classy incursions into enemy territory were few and far between from the Flying Eagles against Uganda. Instead, they went long on many occasions and in truth they manufactured some through passes to their wingers from midfield but the stepovers and movements of our strikers were simply mundane and well curtailed by the Ugandans.
The much vaunted Nigerian goalkeeper showed some vulnerabilities to his game when he spilled a harmless shot before redeeming himself to gather the ball and then later produce a sublime save from a header off a corner kick later on. Several other shots aimed at him yesterday were feeble and saveable to be honest.
It is way too soon to throw the goalkeeper in the deep end of full international football in my humble opinion. Bosso will face far technical sides in the world cup where the goalkeeper will have to earn his onions. For now, he has been okay and his all round performance has been commendable.
If Bosso elects to stick with route one football, there is nothing wrong with that in my books, I will just suggest that they work on their deliveries.
Yes route one delivered the goal yesterday but very many of their long balls from one wing to another, defence to attack and defence to the flanks failed to hit the mark.
If they work hard and hone the accuracy of their long balls, then opponents (particularly short players) will find them hard to cope with.
Nigeria has qualified for the Under-20 World Cup. This is big deal! In doing so, the Flying Eagles dashed the hopes Egypt, Mozambique and Uganda, teams that have or had realistic chances of grabbing a world cup ticket.
From navigating last year's Wafu Cup against hostile, bitter and formidable West African opponents to coming to Egypt and seeing off teams who themselves fought their way tooth and nail into this Under-20 Afcon tournament, the achievement of Bosso and his boys can never be overemphasised or overpraised - they have done well.
So, a big thank you to them for giving me, us the fans, something meaty and exciting to look forward to in May.
So, what do we have to look forward to? The team's brand of football has been underwhelming; it has not been soul-satisfying. In offensive play, they have lacked imagination and they play as if their midfield is non-existent. Their style of play is not discernible and their pattern is not free flowing.
At this level, you expect winning results laced with flair, gravitas, mastery of basic football techniques and sophistication from a Flying Eagles team. The winning results are there which we genuinely thank Bosso and boys for. But the other elements that have become a staple and identity of the Flying Eagles team over the years are sorely lacking.
Like I said earlier, Bosso appears to have a penchant for route one football. There is nothing wrong with that (although a large body of Nigeria fans hate route one football). But for me, if that is the case, then he needs players that can execute this philosophy with flair, mastery, competency and sophistication whilst concurrently achieving results.
It seems incredibly harsh and counterintuitive to criticise a coach and a team who continually hit their targets. Praise has to go to the entire team for their never-say-die attitude, their dogged determination, patriotism and winning mentality.
But you get a sense that there are Under-20 footballers in Nigeria and diaspora who can get winning results and do so with a more compelling, mesmerising, refined, more visually appealing and better coordinated brand of football.
For now, Bosso and his boys deserve praise. They are in Egypt to clinch a world cup berth and that they have done, any other thing is secondary.
That said, for them not to just go to Indonesia to make up the numbers, a radical overhaul of the team's pattern of play is required with greater technical injection and tactical nous.
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