Two years ago, Coach Ladan Bosso failed to qualify Nigeria’s U-20 team, the Flying Eagles, for the Africa and FIFA U-20 World Cup, as his team failed at the U-20 WAFU Cup in Benin Republic.
Against all expectations, the Flying Eagles, who used to be the pride of Africa at the world level, were reduced to baby chickens in Cotonou, finishing with just one point from two games in the group stages, following a 1-1 with Cote d’Ivoire and 0-1 defeat by Ghana.
The failure at the WAFU Cup stopped the Flying Eagles from participating in the 2021 U-20 Africa Cup of Nations, which was the final qualifier for the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
After the competition, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) apologised to Nigerians for embarrassing the nation with a promise to strengthen the team’s technical crew ahead of future challenges.
Before then, the same Ladan Bosso had failed with the Flying Eagles at the FIFA U-20 World Youth Championship in Canada, where Nigeria lost to Chile in the quarterfinal stage. That was in 2007.
Rather than drop Bosso or send him on refresher courses to upgrade his knowledge of the game, the NFF gave him a pat on the back and allowed him to continue on the job for two more years. He was later dismissed when he led the Flying Eagles to finish third at the African Youth Championship in Rwanda in 2009.
It took public complaints over his team’s lacklustre display before the NFF reluctantly dropped Bosso. Many football-loving Nigerians were shocked, yesterday, when the NFF rolled out names of coaches for the national teams, and again, Bosso returned as Head Coach of the U-20 team. He will work with former U-17 Head Coach, Fatai Amao (Assistant Coach); Oladuni Oyekale (Assistant Coach); Jolomi Atune Alli (Assistant Coach) and Baruwa Olatunji Abideen (Goalkeepers’ Trainer).
Many Nigerians, who could not see the rationale for Bosso’s return as head coach of the Flying Eagles, carpeted the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF yesterday, describing the football house as a body that encourages failure.
“I can’t believe that the same NFF, which sacked Augustine Eguavoen, Emmanuel Amuneke and others for Super Eagles’ failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, is lining up the likes of Bosso as national team coaches. It is sad,” the proprietor of Cables Football Academy, Coach Edwin Onovwotafe, told The Guardian.
Apart from Bosso’s recall, the NFF executive committee also approved the recommendation of its Technical and Development Sub-Committee for the reappointment of Salisu Yusuf as the Head Coach of the Super Eagles B (otherwise known as CHAN team), as well as the U23 (Olympics) team.
To some Nigerians, the re-appointment of Salisu Yusuf as coach of both the CHAN Eagles and the Olympics team is a clear indication that the NFF does not wish the nation’s football well.
Former coach of the Super Falcons and Golden Eaglets, Godwin Izilien, had warned the NFF of Wednesday on the implication of re-appointing Yusuf as head coach of the Home-based Eagles four years after FIFA punished him for allegedly soliciting bribe as handler of the same team.
On July 24, 2018, Yusuf was seen accepting a cash gift in a video released by BBC Africa following a series of investigations on the state of football in Africa.
Yusuf was said to have accepted bribe after two investigative reporters approached him to include two footballers in his squad to the 2018 African Championship (CHAN).
“If it is true, then the NFF would have destroyed our football completely,” Izilien told The Guardian on Wednesday. “What will be NFF’s message to other coaches, who are into corrupt practices? I just hope it is mere rumour.
But if it comes to reality, the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF would have rubbished everything left in our football.
“For you to preach equity, you must come with clean hands. It will be a bad precedent for the NFF to re-appoint Salisu Yusuf as coach of the Home-based Eagles,” Izilien stated then