From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Coach Ladan Bosso has certainly become a household name in the Nigerian coaching circle having criss-crossed almost every part of the country as handler of many league clubs.
The chief coach of El-Kanemi Warriors FC of Maiduguri, who also doubles as the president of Nigerian Coaches Association in his vociferous self, took a swipe at his fellow Nigerian tacticians, chiding them for desperately taking up coaching jobs without caring to document their contracts.
Fielding questions from Saturday Sunsports in Abuja recently, the former Abia Warriors FC handler further boasted that he deserves honour as the best tactician in the country. He also argued that he did not only weather the storm to bring peace and happiness to soccer fans in many troubled part of this country but had also prevailed as a national team and club side coach.
According to him, he remains the only coach who has worked in states where militancy, kidnapping and insurgency are at threatening stages without experiencing any molestation from them. He equally speaks on other issues concerning Nigerian football and the domestic league, claiming that he has become an authority.
What is the possibility of El-Kanemi Warriors winning the Premier league title this season?
Well, as far as I am concerned, the league is still open, but I have to admit that it is going to be very tight and difficult for El-Kanemi to win the league title this season. However, I have told anybody who cares to listen that my major concern is to always build a team that everybody can reckon with.
I have always built a team made up of future players for the national teams. I have built teams that can give the club owner or financiers some level of satisfaction. I have built the ones many believed that I have left a legacy. I want to say with some level of certainty that El-Kanemi FC getting a continental ticket is still possible, but my only fear is that the league has gone very far.
What has been the secret of El-Kanemi’s good form this season?
You see, we actually started doing well after the first round of last season. You know that the responsibility of a good coach is to learn how to improve his team. That is what I been trying to do and what I have done. Essentially, I have kept telling the players what is expected of them. I know that even as I am in charge now, I will not remain there for life. I know very well that what I do with El-Kanemi will be what will give me a better job elsewhere tomorrow.
To answer your question properly, the secret of the team is that people at a point realised my mission in Maiduguri. They understood that I was on a mission to help indigenous players and when the government realised that, they came all out to give us all we desired for to build the team.
They started pumping in money into the team and as I speak with you today, El-Kanemi is one of the most motivated teams in the Nigerian Premier league. We have about six to 10 players that are earning above N400, 000 as monthly salary. They are the ones in the group A category. Those in group B, earn as high as N200, 000 to N300, 000 as monthly salary. We have gone ahead to beat even the least salary structures set by the LMC.
Of course, I can tell you that at least eight of the super regular players in the team are indigenes. They are players that I brought from the amateur, from the university and non-clubs. They are really making the team alive. I strongly believe that by the time LMC releases the fund for developmental players, El-Kanemi will get the highest amount.
Is there any truth in the speculation that most visiting teams prosecute El-Kanemi match in Maiduguri with feeder teams?
That is certainly not the case. I think it boils down to how the coaches psyche their players before the match. Most away teams prosecute the matches with a defeatist mind-set, which affects the input of the players.
If a coach approaches a game with the mind-set for victory, he will certainly get it. Coaches must try to avoid distractions and must refocus their minds for victory. In the past, I had taken teams like Tornadoes, Bayelsa United, Abia Warriors among others to Maiduguri and I can boldly tell you that I never lost a match there.
The matches I lost against El-Kanemi were when the team was playing away from home in Kano. Our performance is not a case of away teams losing because they are afraid of Boko Haram insurgence. Even when Boko Haram was at an alarming stage, I took a team to Maiduguri and got a 2-2 draw result.
You have spent two seasons with El-Kanemi but what have been your motivations?
Off course, we should not put fears ahead of us. I have always handled clubs where other coaches avoid because the area is problematic and I have always survived all of them. I handled Bayelsa United FC when militancy was at its peak. I brought everybody including the militants around the club throughout my duration there.
It was the same experience at Abia Warriors FC when the issue of kidnapping was at very disturbing in Abia State and some South east states. People, especially the soccer-loving fans, rally round me and supported me.
I was in Maiduguri when the issue of Boko Haram became very worrisome but things continued to work in my favour for good. So, the most important thing is what we have contributed individually and collectively in bringing peace to the restive parts of this country in our own individual ways.
What is your assessment of the Premier league season so far?
As far as I am concerned, I must give kudos to the NFF as the owner of the league. I will also commend the LMC for a near perfect organisation of the league so far this season. Beside every other achievement, the league managers have ensured that there were no outstanding matches compare to the experiences of some seasons in the past.
With what the LMC has done so far, it will be wrong to say that the season is a bad one. Yes, I have to admit that we still have some issues about officiating but they are not as pronounced as what we use to see in some years back. Sincerely speaking, we have had the best of teams picking points in away matches in the past two seasons.
It has been so good that any club that prepares very well, can get point anywhere on the road. If the level of officiating has not improved, teams would not have been picking points away from home. The situation challenged the coaches that anyone who prepares his team better can win.
Considering the fact that Austin Equavoen resigned sighting bad officiating as reason, will it be right for you to pass vote of confidence on officiating?
That is the differences in human beings. We can never be the same, but I strongly believe that any coach who has religiously being part of the Nigerian league cannot give officiating as excuse for resigning his appointment.
I have been part of the Nigerian Premier league for a very long time now. In fact, I have never rested for one season since the modern Premier Nigerian league started in the year 2000. So, I am at a vantage position more than any other person to rightly access the Nigerian Premier league.
Is coach Bosso too young to retire?
Well, I have set retirement target for myself but it is abstract for now. It is yet for public consumption. Yes, I have become a big brand coaching in Nigerian league. When we discuss Nigerian football, I know that it is not all coaches that can survive both national teams and club side. There are some coaches good only for national teams not club side and vice versa but there are only few of us that have survived and excelled in both.
Did it surprise you that some Nigerian coaches still complain of debt arrears with clubs?
When coaches complain to me about debt arrears, I always laugh at them and request to see the formal contract they signed with the clubs that owe them. The truth is that many of them never signed formal contract when joining the clubs. I have always wondered how I can intervene in such situation as the president of the Nigeria Coaches Association.
It is only when we see a documented contract that we can know how to tackle the situation. It is disappointing and disgraceful that some of us still take up coaching job without signing any contract document. Many of them that even signed ended up taking up slavery contract.
Most of them don’t even know the details of the contract they signed. They don’t know their entitlements and how the contract package will be paid. They don’t even know when their employers have flouted their contracts.