Flying Eagles head coach Ladan Bosso has explained the selection process used in selecting the Flying Eagles team for the West Africa Football Union Championship in Benin.
The Flying Eagles will start their campaign today against Cote D’Ivoire, and Bosso speaking to NFF TV ahead of the game highlighted the criteria for the team.
“It’s a good thing to let Nigerians know how we have arrived at this stage. Before we started camping after the announcement of the newly appointed coaches, we appreciate what has been done because I have the belief that all the variables that were involved in this appropriation have all done well, ranging from the administrators, my colleagues and the players themselves,” Bosso said.
“Before we assumed camping I met with my assistants and gave them a platform to voice out so we can move forward. The assignment given to us is not for me and my assistants, it’s for the whole of Nigeria. If we look at how we started, we put up a template, in the sense that the players we’re going to invite must belong to one or two of those catchment areas.
“The first is those players that played in the last U17 though they did not do so well but they qualified and played in the World Cup. The last U17 was supposed to be what we call as coaches ‘foundation team’ where we build upon, during friendly matches we do some checks and balances, elimination and substitution. We have about three of them in the current squad.”
The Golden Eaglets were eliminated in the round of 16 at the 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup held in Brazil, an uncharacteristic one for Nigeria.
“Academy players playing in different academies but have experience in the national team. Some of them have played in the U17 or U20 but don’t play league and are back to their academies.
“Another area is the league players who are still within the age range of U20, we had to go for them. After the paperwork, I went to the LMC to confirm, I got about 32 players that play in the league but are still within the range of the U20. Their performances for their clubs were then looked into,” he said.
Majority of youngsters don’t feature for NPFL clubs as 17 of the initial 32 have never featured for their clubs at all, not even for a match. The list was then further narrowed down to those who have played 10-25 games, leaving only nine players who were invited from the league.
The team played preparatory friendly games after the selection. They’ve played eight without losing, scored 28 goals and conceded four goals.
“That’s not a bad record and we hope to see how we can maintain that record of not losing matches.” Bosso said.
He highlighted the two major challenges faced during selection as lack of proper documentation of most players playing in the league, some with two passports with different ages. He also noted that involvement in continental competition for clubs prevented some players from being called up.