The Flying Eagles of Nigeria are on the quest to qualify for the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations taking place early next year in Egypt. At the helm is controversial Ladan Bosso, the same coach under the same conditions that saw them crash out of the same tournament two years ago.
What were those same conditions? Late camping plus late preparations which equalled failure in Benin Republic in 2020. However, with exactly the same set of variables, Bosso is promising a different outcome this time around. “We will strive to give our best to win our first match and the subsequent ones in order to progress,” said the perennial Flying Eagles coach as he primes his team for the tasks at hand. Despite all the worries around late preparations, Bosso insists that the three tune of matches that the team has played thus far are helping to whip them into ultimate tournament shape. “In these three tune up matches, we scored 10 goals and conceded four (in the two wins and one draw that we achieved). This shows that things are not too bad.” He concluded. It has to be said that two years ago, his team did well in tune up matches only to come short in the tournament itself. The score draw to Ivory Coast and slim loss against Ghana sealed their fate. “We had chances that would have finished this game since the first half but we couldn’t do that. We were very wasteful and that was what cost us this match,” said Bosso in December 2020 after a 1:0 loss to Ghana saw his Flying Eagles crash out of the Wafu Cup. So, will he be able to address that wastefulness this time around? “My experience from the last edition has taught me some lessons. I hope to work on them and excel,” said Bosso according to the article on Complete Sports Nigeria. For me, I was very satisfied with the brand of football played by Bosso’s boys in 2020. It was discernable, positive, dynamic, purposeful and direct. They created compelling goal scoring opportunities only to fluff their lines when it mattered the most. From what I saw, poor pitch and questionable refereeing decisions – particularly against Ivory Coast in the first match – was their Waterloo. Bosso has actually qualified a Flying Eagles team for the World Cup before (in 2009), which is little known knowledge. Back then, Bosso’s boys (which included the likes of Michael Uchebo, Nwankwo Obiora, Rabiu Ibrahim and Gbolahan Salami) overcame the likes of Ivory Coast, Egypt and South Africa to grab one of the three world cup tickets on offer at the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations in Rwanda.
Will he be able to attain the success that eluded him in 2020? We haven’t got that long to wait.
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