Joe Erico’s Jogo Bonito – on Spotlight | An Aesthetic Football Philosophy Made in Nigeria

 Most Nigerian football coaches proved to be poor in reading games for tactical changes. One other thing fans have accused them of is, not having any identifiable style of play. Well, that may not be true; most Nigerian teams play kick-n-follow. What fans derogatorily call “Where Belle Face?” But it was different with one man called Erico.

Joe Erico is an apostle of ‘Jogo Bonito’ – an aesthetic football philosophy which is based on the tip-tap playing pattern similar to that of Brazilian Samba.

Erico, popularly known as ‘Jogo Bonito Exponent,’ was a goalkeeper for Electricity Connectors of Nigeria (ECN) and for Green Eagle of Nigeria in his playing days. He introduced the style of play in Nigeria in the 90s’ – while still the coach of Julius Berger FC aka Adewale Bridge boys.

Jogo Bonito’s tip-tap style which relied more on ball possession – tossing the ball thru and fro  with short passes made by one or two touches and players taught how to shield the ball from opponent at close contact as well as how to make thru passes between defenders  - was a beauty to behold.

It was similar to the playing pattern of FC Barcelona. No wonder it was Erico that tutored Emmanuel Amunike and Gbenga Okonowo, the only Nigerian players that ever featured in Barcelona.

Well, critics were of the opinion that Jogo Bnito is playing to the gallery and doesn’t get result. One of the fans quoted Jose Mourinho: “Football is about scoring goals and no matter how long your team possess the ball, if they don’t score, what they created is nothing. Mourinho line of thought seem to hold water here, since Adewale Bridge boys only managed to win Nigeria Premier league twice in 1991 and 2000. The team never went beyond second round of CAF Champions league and today, they’ve been relegated to the lower division.

Something going for Jogo Bonito is this, it build up solid skills on individual players – perfect ball control, good passes, ball holding skills… Erico had trained great players for Nigeria national team, who later became world class stars – Rashidi Yekini, Mutiu Adepoju, Samson Siasia, Adeolu Adekola, Taribo West, Dosun Joseph, Emmanuel Amunike, Sunday oliseh, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Gbenga Okonowo… the list goes on.

Erico bear his mind on the fading away of football artistry in Nigeria as one of the reasons for low attendance in Glo Premier league matches.

“The era of ‘good football’ in Nigeria is fast fading away. Football is entertainment for Christ sake! It’s difficult to see any team today that can hold on to the ball and make six or eight passes without losing the ball to the opponent.”

“Interesting football like Jogo Bonito tip-tap playing pattern make fans look forward to the next game with passion.” Erico Concluded.

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