Dutchman Jo Bonfrere, wants the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to give him another chance to lead the team. “If I am asked to come back, I would have to prove to everyone that my results and performances can win me the support of everyone,” Bonfrere told BBC Sport on telephone from the Netherlands yesterday.
“I have worked in Nigeria for a long time in the past and I know what to do to get the Super Eagles flying again. I love Nigeria because that is where my football mentality is most at home and I have a fantastic relationship with the people there,” Bonfrere added. Bonfrere began his stormy romance with Nigeria in 1990, when he was assistant coach to Clemens Westerhof. The Dutch coaching duo worked together at the 1990, 1992 and 1994 African Nations Cups, winning silver, bronze and gold medals.
Bonfrere was also Westerhof’s assistant at the 1994 World Cup and subsequently managed the U-23 team to a gold medal at Atlanta “96 Olympics. But arguments over his salary and team selection made him quit the job in the United States, from where he returned to his native Holland.
He returned in 1999 and took charge of the Super Eagles at the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations where Nigeria lost the gold to Cameroun. During his first successful stint the country was under a military government, a suitable platform for foreign managers to enjoy great financial backing and sacred immunity from the football authority.
But Bonfrere is ready to let his work speak for him should the NFF entrust him with the three-time African champions. He believes he is ‘the right man’ to return Nigeria to the summit of African football, 15 years after he was sacked as coach. 69-year-old Bonfrere is keen to replace Sunday Oliseh who resigned from the post.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Amaju Pinnick has said they have no plans to appoint a local coach on a temporary basis. Current U-23 coach Samson Siasia will take charge for Nigeria’s Nations Cup qualifiers against Egypt later this month. Bonfrere believes he is the right man to succeed Oliseh on a long-term basis.