I don’t have intention to dig up old wounds, says Bonfrere Jo
Former Super Eagles coach, Bonfrere Jo says his recent interview with some Nigerian journalists was not meant to generate unnecessary controversy or dig up old wounds.
Bonfrere was brought to Nigeria by Dutchman Clemens Westerhof in the early 1990s. While Westerhof left after the Super Eagles lost to Italy in their second-round match at USA ’94 World Cup, Bonfrere stayed on and led the Olympics Eagles to win a gold medal at Atlanta ’96. Bonfrere shocked many Nigerians recently when he alleged in a radio sports programme that Westerhof collected $100,000 bribe to lose the match against Italy.
However, the coach said in a press statement made available to The Guardian yesterday that the recent polemic in the press does not reflect the entire context of his interview with some journalists. “It was clearly no intention of mine to generate unnecessary controversy or dig up old wounds,” he said.
He continues: “The misunderstanding that followed is largely regrettable and needless. And should not distract us from the point of focus today, which should be centred on ways of elevating the level of Nigerian football to what we used to know.
“As someone who has coached the Super Eagles on several occasions, I strongly believe in the future of Nigerian football. The national focus should be channelled towards ensuring that Nigerian players keep progressing individually so that Nigerian fans can relive more glorious moments like the ones experienced in USA ‘94 and in Atlanta ‘96,” he stated.
Bonfrere Jo further said: “The history of Nigerian football is part of my life and career and I am proud to have contributed in making the 1990s a decade particularly rich for Nigerian football on the international scene.
“During the USA ’94 World Cup, it was universally recognised that the Super Eagles was made up of a particularly talented group of individually gifted players. And that Nigerian team could have beaten any opposition during that competition.
“As many Nigerians, I also believed that getting to the semi-final was achievable. Such a feat was only hindered by other issues beyond our control at that time.
“On a personal level, I can only regret not pushing that generation of players into attaining their full potential. Especially considering we had a qualified and experienced technical staff. I share the regret many Nigerians had, of not seeing that squad reach the final four stage of that World Cup,” Bonfrere stated.
He, however, stated that this is the most challenging time for everybody globally, with the Coronavirus outbreak. “We should all remain determined to support and protect one another without any sentiment.
“Covid-19 Pandemic requires all hands on deck soberly, cooperatively, humanly, justly, equitably, fairly, and comprehensively to be able to fight it successfully and get the world back to good health and healthy economy,” he stated.
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