By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, kick442.com Nigeria
Former Super Eagles coach, Johannes-Franciscus Bonfrère [also known as Bonfrere Jo] has revealed his former boss, Clemens Westerhof sold Nigeria’s game against Italy at the country’s debut World Cup appearance in in 1994.
The irresistible then African champions arrived USA with arguably the best Super Eagles side of all time.
Jo made the stunning revelation was made in an exclusive interview on Africa’s first Sports Radio, Brila FM.
As someone who worked with Westerhof at close range and looking at events sorrounding Nigeria’s defeat on that day, this can’t be classed as a minor comment.
“Everyone blames the coach. The coach did something wrong and we lost before the game started. He sold the game for $100,000, that’s why we lost against Italy. If you don’t believe, you can ask the players.” Bonfrere Jo asserted.
After defeating Bulgaria 3-0, losing 2-1 to Argentina and 2-0 triumph over Greece, Nigeria finished top of Group D on superior goal difference. The African Champions trade tackles with Italy in the Round of 16 where they were close to quarter-final qualification with Emmanuel Amunike’s 15th-minute goal. But two goals from Roberto Baggio in the 89th and 101st minute ensured that Super Eagles crashed out of their maiden World Cup appearance at the Round of 16.
Nigeria was ranked 5th in the world after the World Cup according to FIFA rankings [the highest by any African football team till date].
Bonfrere Jo assisted Clemens Westerhof during the 1994 FIFA World Cup and went on to lead Dream Team I [Nigeria Under 23 team] to Africa’s first football Gold medal at Atlanta 1996 Olympics. He also led Super Eagles to a silver medal finish during Ghana/Nigeria 2000 African Cup of Nations where they lost on penalties to Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.
This could turn out to be a controversial subject of interest in the world of football in the days ahead.
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