Former Super Eagles’ coach, Johannes Bonfrere has come out with a plea to the Nigerian media to avoid spreading controversy that could derail further development and revival of the national team, as he reckoned that recent negative reports in the press can damage the squad, megasportsarena.com reports.
The iconic Dutch soccer tactician, who handled the Nigerian under-23 squad to win the gold medal at Atlanta ’96 Olympic Games and then led the main team to silver on home soil as co-hosts of the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations, stressed that the press has a key role to play in charting the way forward for the Eagles in years to come.
While making his points during Mega Sports on Star 101.5 FM, Lagos, Bonfrere espoused a new and different angle to recent reports in the Nigerian media that he allegedly accused his former boss, Clemens Westerhof of selling out the team’s epic World Cup match against Italy at USA ’94.
Nigerian football followers were shocked when Bonfrere recently alleged on a radio programme that Westerhof collected a bribe of $100,000 to lose the round of 16 match against Italy, but the now elderly coach pointed out that a follow-up report in a Nigerian newspaper did not reflect his exact line of reactions during the said contentious interview.
With the matter reportedly now a case of slander and libel in a court of law, Bonfrere stopped short of speaking directly about his supposed falling out with the man that brought him to Nigeria, but chose to focus more on calling the media to order and charged them on the need to support Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in the process of developing the round leather game.
However, in the course of his message, the former back-up-coach of Westerhof, the self-acclaimed ‘Dutch-Gerian’ that won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations with the Eagles in Tunisia, alleged that a Nigerian newspaper had reported out of context an interview he remembered having with a popular radio station; which he ostensibly believes led to the issue of libel.
In retrospect, Bonfrere has now charged the Nigerian sporting press and general media to avoid sensational reports laced with gossip and ‘yellow journalism,’ which he believes shield everyone away from the task of ensuring that the Eagles return to the glory days they used to have.
He concluded with a verdict that Nigerian fans and media can once again enjoy seeing the Eagles winning trophies, as they used to have when the team was playing under Westerhof and himself; especially now that the squad has an array of vibrant young players to call into action under their Franco-German gaffer, Gernot Rohr.
Bonfrere stated: “The Super Eagles can still do better now than it was when I was with the team. They have many young, strong and athletic players. They have potentials for good things that can make the team win trophies again like before.
“The press has a role to play to help the development. They should continue being credible and give stories that will help the team’s progress; not to engage in gossip and conflict. I know that Nigeria has good journalists in newspapers and radio; they just have to keep their focus and help the football federation to develop and support the national team.”