Former head coaches of the Super Eagles, Clemens Westerhof and Bonfrere Jo are battling it out in court over match-fixing allegations.
The court case was instituted by Westerhof after his former assistant and friend Bonfrere Jo accused him of ‘selling’ the 1994 match between Nigeria and Italy for $100,000.
Clemens Westerhof guided Nigeria to her maiden World Cup appearance 26 years ago where the Super Eagles side lost to Italy at the knockout stage of the 1994 World Cup.
Nigeria appointed Westerhof as the Super Eagles head coach in the early nineties, and the former Vitesse Arnhem manager inspired the side to her second-ever AFCON triumph at Tunisia ’94.
Bonfrere had in April told Nigeria’s sport radio station, Brila FM, that his former principal and colleague, Coach Clemens Westerhof sold the World Cup group match, which Nigeria lost 1-2, no thanks to a Roberto Baggio second-half brace.
Bonfrere, said in the interview, “Yes everyone blames the coach. The coach did something wrong and we lost before the game started,” Bonfrere revealed.
He continued, “He sold the game for $100,000, that’s why we lost against Italy. If you don’t believe, you can ask the players.”
As expected, Westerhof, who is regarded as Nigeria’s best coach ever, foreign or local, rose in defence and vowed to clear his name, claiming that his former assistant, Bonfrere should be ready to prove his allegations in a court of law.
Westerhof said, “Bonfrere’s allegation is not true. It is a lie. He wants to bring my name in bad light. He knows that the people in Nigeria like me. What happened was that we lost to Roberto Baggio’s two goals, the last was a penalty kick. We lost by two goals to one. That was what happened.”
The case came up yesterday at the court and after cross-examination, Bonfrere denied he ever said anything like that against Westerhof and claimed that he was being framed by the radio house to fan embers of hatred between him and his former boss.
But a Round of 16 clash against Italy ended the African nation’s adventure at the Mundial with the Europeans coming from behind to win 2-1 after extra-time despite playing much of the second half with ten men.
Westerhof left his post immediately after that tournament, with his assistant Bonfrere taking over and leading Nigeria to her first-ever Olympic Games gold medal in football at Atlanta ’96.
Bonfrere left afterwards, only to return years later to help Nigeria to a runners-up spot at Ghana-Nigeria 2000.
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