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From controversy to redemption: Will Ladan Bosso rewrite his Flying Eagles legacy in Argentina?

As the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina approaches, the primary aim of Ladan Bosso, the head coach of the Nigeria national under-20 football team, will be to rewrite his legacy that was previously marred by World Cup controversy.

This is not the first time Bosso will be leading the Flying Eagles.

When the Niger State-born tactician was initially placed in charge of the team, his performance was commendable.

Bosso led the team to the quarterfinals of the World Youth Championship and secured a bronze medal at the 2009 Africa U20 Cup of Nations.

However, his tenure will always be remembered for his controversial comments against celebrated English referee Howard Webb after his Flying Eagles were eliminated from the World Cup in Canada.

Bosso had envisioned taking Nigeria to its first world title, having built a team that was difficult to handle and hard to beat.

Although his team struggled to consistently find the back of the net at the 2007 U20 World Cup, they possessed the meanest defense in Canada and comfortably reached the Round of 16.

Nigeria scored a mere three goals in three games but performed well by defeating Costa Rica 1-0, Scotland 2-0, and drawing goalless against Japan.

Advancing to the Round of 16 as Group F runners-up, the Flying Eagles faced Zambia and emerged victorious with a 2-1 scoreline. In the quarterfinals, the team encountered a formidable Chile side, holding them to a goalless draw in full-time.

Unfortunately, the Nigerian team conceded four goals in extra time, leading to a scandalous defeat.

In a bizarre turn of events, Bosso directed his anger and disappointment towards the referee, Howard Webb, accusing him of racism.

While Webb was ruthless with his calls and showed Nigeria seven yellow cards, including a red card in extra time, the true downfall of the Flying Eagles was their wastefulness in front of the goal.

Bosso was subsequently dismissed two years later but has since held various coaching positions before his reappointment as the Flying Eagles coach in 2020.

This time, Bosso asserts that he has learned from his past mistakes and is committed to doing things right.

However, not much has changed in Bosso’s managerial approach. His teams continue to prioritize a pragmatic style, focusing on solid defense while struggling to score goals consistently.

Looking ahead to the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Bosso is determined to guide the Flying Eagles past the quarterfinals, a stage they have not surpassed since reaching the final in 2005.

Flying Eagles
Flying Eagles

Placed in Group D alongside formidable opponents Brazil and Italy, as well as the debutant Dominican Republic, the Flying Eagles face a challenging task. Their opening game against the Dominican Republic becomes crucial in setting the tone for their campaign.

While some doubt whether Bosso has assembled the best Nigerian U-20 talents for the tournament, if he can harness the resources at his disposal and lead the team to the latter stages of the competition, it would undoubtedly mark his greatest career achievement.

Furthermore, success in Argentina would bolster his aspirations of coaching the senior national team, the Super Eagles.

Bosso’s second chance with the Flying Eagles presents an opportunity to rewrite his legacy and leave a lasting impact on Nigerian football. It all begins on Sunday night.

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