The two Dutchmen guided Nigeria to two of her greatest triumphs in world football, but their friendship has soiled over the years, and it has taken a turn for the worse lately
Dutchman Clemens Westerhof, who guided Nigeria to her maiden World Cup appearance 26 years ago, has charged his former assistant and friend Jo Bonfrere to court.
It came after Bonfrere accused Westerhof of receiving a hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) bribe to cause his Super Eagles side to lose against 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.
Later that summer, Nigeria appeared at the FIFA World Cup for the first time in history and impressed during the group stages, finishing top of her group after defeating Bulgaria and Greece.
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.
Westerhof, 80, was also recently rumoured to be interested in returning as Super Eagles coach, claiming to have the strategy needed to help Nigeria become world champions in a couple of years.
But his plan was thrown under the bus when his compatriot, Bonfrere, allegedly accused him of working against Nigeria in the defeat to Italy almost three decades ago.
An angry Westerhof has refused to take the allegations lightly and is asking the Dutch court to compel Bonfrere, 74, to retract his statements and issue an apology, as reported by Netherlands publications, NOS.
Bonfrère, however, insists that he had not accused his former boss of any crime and that his words were misquoted in the Nigerian media.
The court is expected to deliver judgement on the case within the next two weeks.