Having put myself through a period akin to a visit to the dentist at times, I have tried to decipher what to expect from the 4th installment of Ladan Bosso as the moot head coach of the Flying Eagles of Nigeria.
The 49 year old veteran coach is not a favourite of many Nigeria fans. To them, Bosso and failure are not mutually exclusive. But I simply disagree with that assertion. Bosso is not brilliant but he is definitely not a waste of space either.
For me, he is like a mid table league manager, similar to say Sean Dyche, Nathan Jones, Tony Pulis or even Eddie Howe in English club football.
When it comes to style of play, Bosso tends to go for something like 4-1-1-2-2.
He normally has his bank of four defenders with a defensive midfielder just behind or towards the side of a centre midfielder. Then there are two attacking midfielders behind one support striker/centre attacking midfielder and a centre forward.
It is a solid set up that provides balance right across the park. What I like are his varied attacking routines. Sometimes, his Flying Eagles implement a slow but methodical build up from defence through to midfield – all on the ground with neat give and go movements – before the strikers try to implement a 1-2 manoeuvre just outside the opposition 18 yard box to carve open defences.
Other times, you see either fullback launch a long ball to the centre forward who attempts to knock it down to his strike partner to be one on one with the goalkeeper.
You also see long balls launched from the defensive midfielder or one of the attacking midfielders from right of left to the centre forward to lay it back to an on rushing midfielder to shoot on goal.
Bosso encourages his players to shoot from long range as well. In short, there is great flexibility to their attacking build up play but there is a problem.
The attacking intention is there but it is just not refined enough. The design is not defective, it is just not polished leading to a machine that is not well oiled or drilled enough.
Watching Bosso’s boys’ build up play is like watching a blockbuster movie on a grainy black and white television with lines and pixels blotting the screen: the ideas are definitely there, these just need to be better developed and greatly refined.
What I like is the variety to their play and the intentions behind their routines. But the blending, class, quality and finish are not always there from his players while his own instructions are not even well baked enough to lift the players beyond their natural abilities.
The organisation and discipline can be better as his boys can be drawn out of shape needlessly. The fact that he didn’t spend much time to prepare his previous under 20 team was evident in that communication, interaction and understanding could have been better on the field of play.
Bosso is not that bad as a coach but he is yet to convince me that he is brilliant. He is just okay.
Perhaps if he has more time to mould a team and also invest more in himself as a coach, he could get better. But even at the moment, he is not a failure by any stretch of the word.
What do I expect in Niger Republic? Not much really!
Bosso has what it takes to give it a good fight. If his team can show character and if they learn at a whirlwind pace, then perhaps they can manage to come out for the group. After which, anything can happen.
A well refined outfit with a killer instinct will easily tear his Flying Eagles to shreds!
But, if they play to their strengths and elevate their level of concentration they might yet surprise many, including themselves.
Whatever happens, one thing is for sure, Bosso’s boys will not go down without a fight. They will be expected to be a hard nut to crack for more better prepared teams in the tourney.
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