For 24 years Nigerians had pointed their fingers at Augustine Eguavoen as the major culprit for Nigeria’s ouster from the 1994 World Cup after the 2-1 defeat to eventual finalists, Italy, but the problem with the Super Eagles was even deeper.
According to then assistant coach, Jo Bonfrere, Head Coach of the Super Eagles and fellow Dutchman Clemens Westerhof had lost not only the dressing room but also the respect of his backroom at the tournament.
The internal crisis snowballed into an eternal feud between the biggest personalities in the Coaching crew; Westerhof and Bonfrere, and most of the players sided with the deputy.
In a tell-it-al, no holds barred moment on Brila FM’s Big Sports Breakfast Morning show on Friday, Jo Bonfrere revealed tactical decisions including selection of players and players’ substitution ended the team’s progress in the debut World Cup appearance.
‘Players will look to me and urge me to speak or make changes, but me and the Coach at the time weren’t talking.
‘We could have beaten Italy and qualified to the quarter-final, but, there were soo many problems in the teams and the Coach was at the center of it all. At this moment, we can never shake hands,’ the 71-year-old explained.
Bonfrere went on to become Coach of the Super Eagles leading the team to the Africa Cup of Nations final in 2000, though fours years before he had guided the U23 team to Africa’s first gold medal in an Olympic Games football event.