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Bonfrere: My Fears For Super Eagles In Russia

Bonfrere: My Fears For Super Eagles In Russia

By Kayode Ogundare:
Former Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Johanes Bonfrere has dropped a bombshell over the possibility of Nigeria not doing well at the 2018 World Cup following what he termed shoddy preparations and a lack of unity of purpose of the players who are currently in Russia preparing for their first game against Croatia on Saturday.

The Dutchman who was on a television programme monitored in Lagos on Tuesday night lamented the individual style of play of the players which he claimed is to the detriment of the team as a whole.


He said: “This team is very different from the 1994 squad. We have very young players in this team and they are not playing well as a unit. They prefer playing for individual glory. I’ve not seen any improvement in the way the team played their last two friendly games. You expected that the mistakes that they made against England would be corrected against Czech Republic but it was even worse. So we have to look forward to the next game maybe they will show a marked improvement although, unfortunately, that will be the World Cup game against Croatia.

“I’m not too familiar with most of the players because I’ve just seen them play a few times. What I noticed is that the players are playing too much individual football and when you have too many players doing that, it will hurt the team. If you lose the ball, you must run back to help get it away from the opponent. That’s why it is a team. In the friendly games I noticed that when they lose the ball, about two three players keep standing without trying to help the team. They stand some 25 yards away at the middle line without showing interest in what their teammates are doing to get the ball back. If you do this, then you have two or three players less than the other team in your own half.”

Zenith Ziva

The 71-year old tactician also threw a subtle shade at the Gernot Rorh-led technical crew for its seeming indecision about the formation and tactics the team is going to play at the World Cup.
“Nigeria can come out of the group if the coaches agree on one formation and tell the players what is expected of each person. You can tell them ‘hey, you going to play like this and this,’ with your mouth but they have never done it before on a pitch and that’s very different from teaching them on a board or even in training.

A match situation is totally different. If you can stick to a system and let the players get the hang of it, then you have potentially one of the best team at the moment. You cannot play 4-4-2 today and 4-3-3 tomorrow and then next week 5-4-1. It’s not possible. A team going to the World Cup cannot do this,” he continued.

The man who engineered Nigeria’s gold medal win at 1996 Olympics in Atlanta also warned about the quality of the Croatian team that the Super Eagles intend to play in their opening game next Saturday at the Kaliningrad Arena.
“Croatia are a very strong and tactical team. Nigeria are trying a system which they don’t yet understand with four days to their first game at the World Cup but Croatia have a system that they stuck to even when they lost against Brazil. But Nigeria keeps changing and changing formation and tactics.

The players must know where they are playing and what they should be doing at every point in time and if they don’t know that it could be a very big problem against Croatia,” he said.
Bonfrere also said he doesn’t see the current Nigeria team finishing on the podium in Russia.

“It will be difficult for this team to win the World Cup. I already said that if you can train the Super Eagles for one month before the World Cup with two weeks of strong physical training. Then they have 80 to 100 percent physical power which you need to play at that level. Then you start tactical work and play friendly games to see how much of what you have taught them they have really imbibed. Then I can say maybe probably they can reach the semi finals and from there anything can happen,” he concluded.

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  • Thank you Mr.Bonfrere leave us alone let us enjoy the moment! If we lose we’ll come back home. Byeeeee

    • You can make your point without chipping in politics.
      Everyone has the right to vote for any candidate, so stick to the subject.
      You don’t have to berate other peoples comments or call them mediocre to show you have something reasonable to say, afterall whether your comment is sensible or not, it does not go beyond this comment page, so keep your cool.

    • Fortesam 3 years ago

      @Olla what Bonfrere said would have been relevant some years back but not in modern day football. Firstly, In modern day football you don’t have the luxury of camping your players for upto one month before a major tournament. Because the football calendar is very tight.
      Secondly, modern football is dynamic. U don’t stick to one tactics all through ur campaign else ur opponents will annihilate u. U adapt ur tactics/formation based on the opposition u are up against. Gernot Rohr is drilling the super eagles to be dynamic. He started drilling the team on 3-5-2 formation since November last year. This is the first time Nigeria is going to the world Cup that u cannot predict the tacticsor the starting 11 that will file out on match day.This means that the eagles will have that element of surprise. Kudos to the coach. Whether eagles qualify or not, it does not make GR a bad coach.

  • oga bonfere nice analysis and observations, but all things work together for our good, we go manage like that.. we have nothing to loose.. our weakness can turnout to be our strength, we have not made a difference yet. so this won’t be new except it get better.. but I strongly believe somthing that if we can manage to win the first game. super eagles always have this inner strength to improve game after game.. u talk of a month training ever since u work in Nigeria which time did u ever get a luxury of coaching our senior team for a month…!? we are known to be great crashers some will call us disorganised team when others try not to disrespect us by calling us unpredictable..
    its either super eaglet( young team) fly or crash….

  • Chima E Samuels 3 years ago

    A team that can not complete 5 passes and switches pull outs from one wing to another when in a tight area or play fluid soccer. Mehn we are joking I will watch the games but I will not deceive myself like most of us here will do

    • @ Chima E Samuels: Well said. Some people here do not take critical remarks very kindly, yet everyone knows that there is no perfect team anywhere and that we all see games differently. For me, I find it incredible that a survey on this website of over 2,000 readers should pick Nigeria as lifting the WC with nearly 50% of the votes. Brazil = 14%; Argentina = 13% and Germany even lower. I have no idea how they came to that conclusion. Even Otto Fischer who has trained many African countries, says Nigerians are overestimating themselves. I would like to see nothing more than see an African team win the WC, but I find that to be difficult to believe, based on our teams’ pedigree. Even then, I wish the SE and other African reps all the best and will still root for them.

    • Chima you are absolutely right the team stil not organised time will tell, i just wish them all the best of luck but i doubt this new super eagles.

  • Djeniko 3 years ago

    You were once our coach and naturally you will like us to do well. You were even just recently given your house. This I will say. You do not love Nigeria more than Nigerians. Holland, your country didn’t qualified. Be constructive in your criticism. As a former coach you should know how it us when you invite 23 players from different league and clubs. Even clubs from the same league don’t play the same patterns. You should know this. So I am surprise that you are openly criticising the players and even fellow coach. What are you trying to do? Are you afraid that Gernot Rohr and his crew will beat your record. 1994 is 24 yrs ago. Things have changed drastically. Another thing you should not forget is that Gernot Rohr is building a team for the future. So Mr Bonfere Jon, criticize but criticize constructively. Never pull your colleague down.

    • Bonfrere or wetin dem deh call u.bad belly.Abeg pack well.I know say u still deh fancy come coach Nigeria. Just leave us alone we go do well.nor put sand sand for rohr garri.coach Rorh European coaching record is higher than yours.una nor be mate ooo.up super eagles with coach rorh ready to conquer the world.

    • gaftopel 3 years ago

      @Djeniko, well said, I love your phraise criticize constructively, However, Criticism is good for who is ready to take advantage from his weakness.

  • Onyeagoro Johnson Chima 3 years ago

    He is not pulling anybody down. What he is saying is the truth. During the friendlies, our strikers were lost on the field of play because no passes came from the midfield for them to act on.

  • Edoman 3 years ago

    l observed the same phenomenal pattern of play by our team which l found to be peculiar to Nigeria. God help us o. Should Rohr fail badly in Russia, we may see the second coming of Bonfrere. He is highly regarded in Nigeria, just to let guys know.

  • Go Eagles, Go 3 years ago

    @ Edoman, you mean the NFF under Amaju Pinnick will to employ a 70yrs old man because he coached Nigeria once? You didn’t say this well this time

  • Thank u bonferejo for ur advice. I hope u dont read some comments here. Because it wil break ur heart. Pls go to  Russia to advise d coach on wat and wat to do .immediately. u can be on board as presidential adviser to d coach of super eagles.

  • emmanuel 3 years ago

    mr bonfere is saying the truth,super eagles are not playing as a team and this is what mr rohr should work on if they want to go far

  • Sunnyb 3 years ago

    Bonfrere Jo , thanks so much, I ve said many times, this team is a joke, bunch of overhyped players. Sentiments, bribery don’t win matches

    • PapaFem 3 years ago

      @Sunnyb, you should wait until they fail to before you crucify them. We all know they are not completely ready but your calculated antagonism and criticisms won’t make them be. I’ve told people that we shouldn’t expect much from this team because SE is going to the WC at a time it is still being fixed. Rohr did the best he could within the available time and the resources at his disposal. I’m not expecting a team built in just two years to win the world cup. In fact, if they reach the second round , its an achievement to me. The
      NFF left it so late in bringing a good tactician. If Rohr or any other good expatriate had come immediately Keshi left, more qualities would have been added to this team in terms personnel and tactical cohesion. We all saw how they qualified in style, even from a supposed group of death. That shows the coach did something right. After all , in the last 5 years, some coaches couldn’t even take us to AFCON. What the team needs now is not unnecessary criticism and misplaced flaks. Let’s get behind them. Encourage them. Support them. Pray for them. Share their pain and joy. After all , this is not a do or die affair. Its a celebration of culture and a game we all love. If they do well, fine. If they don’t, life goes on. There’s always another WC , another opportunity to shine. @ Sunnb and other overzealous fans attacking this team should sheath their sword and vet behind the team.

      • Ajah sylvester dominic 3 years ago

        Absolutely sensible.you made good points. Yes, criticising them especially this time around will not bring any positive difference. We should rally around them for strength to carry on with their performance. Our support is more crucial now than criticism. As for bonfere jo, he should honourably relax for his own time is indeed over.we are in a new dispensation and generation. Hopefully, we will be able to surprise him.

    • Why do you and some other commentators always like to accuse past and present coaches of bribery?

  • Myk Donnah 3 years ago

    BJ I am 100% in support of ur analysis over Super Eagles. U hv proved ur quality as a good TA in d world of football. Don’t mind d silly Nigerians who feel they can write any rubbish against any one. Not knowing that they are fooling there selves. Foolish Nigerians listen if u challenge any good reasoning u are completely making fool of urself. BJ said his observations, all u need to do is to cool down observe it aswell. not to start condemning him whereas he said the whole truth. we all love d team and want it to do well in Russia. That doesn’t mean we should b far from d truth. Even d team itself accepted to b underdogs (u kw what it means) Lets learn to accept d truth from pundits. I dey beg unah.

  • My brother try understand his point of view not criticism he made a quite sincere analysis about the team which we all know it is the gospel truth

  • Godswill 3 years ago

    Jo Bonfrere doesn’t know modern football, am sure since he is out of job, he has not gone for any coaching refresher course. Your team formation depends on how your opponent play. For instance, look at the match against England, Rhor used 4-3-3 and the Eagles were been bossed around but immediately he changed to 3-5-2 they started biting. So there is no particular formation that a team uses. Bonfrere is angry and jealous that the team was given to Thor to handle and not him. Bad belle. Was it not as a result of experimenting formations that we get to know that 3-5-2 is good for us, we used to finish Argentina in friendly and used to boss England in second half. So a coach is allowed to experiment formation as a plan B

    • Israel Akinlawon 3 years ago

      @Godwill, you are on point. What Bonfrere Joe fails to realize is that the trend of coaching has changed drastically from how it was 24 years ago when he was an assistant to Westerhof. For instance, by 1994 or 1996 when Bonfrere Joe went to Atlanta to win Olympic gold medal, the opponents were not spying one another, but now you could see the Croates, Argentines and the likes sending spies to our friendly match venues to jot down our tactics. Also, in 1996, there use of internet to monitor opponents was not as wide as it is now. All these things Gernot Rohr understand as a modern coach, that is why he is not exposing his tactics to the opponents. Bonfrere Jo should relax and see how the Eagles would perform during world cup.

  • Asoko Emmanuel 3 years ago

    Well I have preferred to read our sumptuous contributions over time rather than make one my self.The reason being that football as a game simply so called is sui generis ie it’s in a class of its own and not meant to be lashed at will exept upon a well thought out analysis without sentiment.But am constrained to respond to Jo’s analysis as I sense it’s fraught with sentiment.Without apologies,Jo is an outdated Coach who has lost touch of the modern way of going about same.Since he left the job with Nigeria in early 2000,did he coach any other Team? No,if he was that good and sound from his analysis he should still be with a big European team or at least an African team.Now to the main issue Jo should remember that no one gave his Olympic team a chance until he won the gold cos he lost almost all his friendlies en route the tournament.A sound coach will know that friendlies are meant to test run different formations to see which one suits better. A critical analysis of the team shows that during our qualifiers 4-3-3 formation was dominant,but that was against African opposition.But the Coach who has played the game at the highest level knew that he was going to a world cup where he meet a more fancied more attacking opposition and it only sensible to fashion out a solution,a formation that could put the stronger teams at bay.That gave the reason he tried out a 3-5-2 against the Arbestelestis,our first friendly after the qualifiers which indeed worked.Jo made our coach looked confused by saying he was busy trying out formations, this is the essence of friendlies.Germans tried it even though they lost but trust me the tournament will speak volume.This super Eagles are a work in process and they will do us proud.

  • What may really hurt our team in Russia is GR decision to honour the players that played the qualifiers with seat on plane to Russia, irrespective of the current form… You wonder for instance why players like agbo were invited and never tested until the poor boy was shown the door. Traumatising. Several folks in the team that shouldn’t be even in eagles team B. .,. We can only hope that we receive favour from this outing. We are certainly not at our best.

  • PapaFem 3 years ago

    Jo Bonfere could be right, but anyone condemning this team on the account of the friendlies is not a good student of history. I was at the stadium when Bonfere’s star-studded Atlanta 96 team played their farewell match against Togo in Lagos. It was so terrible that people were waiting outside the gate after the 3-0 or 3-1 loss to deal with him and his team. But things started to change after they won against Saudi Arabia and a selected side few days to the competition. They went on to pick a gold medal. Two years before, we were abysmal against the likes of Sweden and a German club before the start of USA 94. Many fans said more than what many of us have said here then. However, their performance remains one of the highlights of that competition. Events leading up to France 98 weren’t good at all. We were so poor against the likes of Holland and Yugoslavia in friendly matches that many fans called for the heads of Bora, Amu and the rest. But in the competition proper, we brought down Spain, complete with Raul, Enrique and Zubizaretta. Bulgaria was our next victim with all their Ivanov , Kostadinov, Petkov and even Stoickhov. We led the group to qualify for the next round. I smell the same surprise tendency around this team. Its not as if they are bad but a number of factors contributed to their poor performance in those friendlies. Fear of injury, poor logistic, the need to give many player the chance to stake a claim, tiredness, injuries,poor pitches, experimenting with different formations and many more. 95% of these won’t happen at the mundial. I trust this team to ‘turn up’ when the chips are down.

    • Thanks my real man! You’re very brilliant and very good analyst.Please tell them let them hear!

  • Sunnyb 3 years ago

    Papafem, much respect Bro,just disappointed in GR and NFA for not given a lot of our youngsters opportunities to showcase their talents.enjoy the mundial.

    • PapaFem 3 years ago

      Same with me @ Sunnyb. But sometimes Bro, we have to look beyond the obvious to form a balanced conclusion. Did you notice that the players who really did great in those friendlies are those who were either fighting to make the WC squad or the first 11? The likes of Victor Moses, Iheanacho, Ighalo, Sheu, Onazi , Mikel and the rest were sure of going to the mundial. They saw no reason to justify giving their 100% in those matches. But take a look at Simmy, Ebuehi, Etebo, and even Uzoho. They played those matches as if their lives depended on them. It simply shows the team isn’t competitive enough. And this boils down to your observation about the coach that he didn’t give a lot of young players the chance to shine. We may blame the time he had to play the qualifying series and the time he had to prepare the team for the WC. He has not really had enough time to throw his dragnet into our ocean of talents. He came in about the time the WCQ series began and went straight into the preparations for the mundual after that. An average German is very conservative. Under this prevailing circumstance, he would prefer to stick with the old guards with a sprinkle of the few fresh ones he could fetch here and there. He had to do so much within the limited time he had. With what we saw of Nwakali brothers, Musa and Usman Muhammed in the match against Atleti, there will be a lot of additions to the team after the WC. And if the NFF keeps him, the next two years could be an icing on the cake for the Super Eagles. 2022 could be a defining year in our football history. As for this Russia, let us just enjoy our football irrespective of what we get from the SE.

      • Greenturf 3 years ago

        Great analysis @papafem.You are indeed a football person.I follow your write up with awe.
        In international football you hardly have many games to try out new players the reason most coaches if not all stick with players that have played together for a while unless you are proven to be very good in that case you could be given a chance to stake a claim in the team.
        Rohr has done exceptionally well.The players he picked were those that qualified us for the world cup with a game to spare.So in that case this set of players are proven and deservedly made the team on merit.
        Meanwhile,we shouldn’t forget the likes of Uzoho,Joel,Idowu and Simmy weren’t part of the team that was involved in the qualifiers but did so well in their various clubsides and also merited to be part of the team.
        In other words,we should give the coach credit for been unbiased in selection in fact he picked the best players available in the current season.
        However if the team is not performing it’s not down to the coach in my opinion I would say the quality may not be good enough in comparison to the opposition.
        For the likes of Nwakalis and Co making the world cup team I would say that’s rather too soon because the world cup is for men not an under age competition.Like Papafem rightly said the coaching crew saw those lads exhibit their wares against Athletico and I’m sure he has pencilled down a couple of them to try out after the world cup.Hoping he continues with his job because getting him sacked may not augur well for the progress of the team.
        I wish the super eagles a wonderful tournament in Russia.

  • Francis 3 years ago

    Which team in the world has their team together for 1 month before the World Cup???

  • bucho2 3 years ago

    Bonfere God wil bless you. Whether u like it or not God wil bless u. D truth is, when said is alwaz sweet to me, while it is bitter to oda people. Sum players ‘walk’ when they loose ball, sum dnt walk but jug wen they do so, nd sum people here ar blind to dis truth becs they think d love d super eagle more dan any oda person, they dnt knw for u to keep a date nd watch a sE match is ‘out of love’ thing. Some who ar even speakin grammer ‘ constructive criticism’ dnt even knw wat criticism means, they see it as a negative word, but they speak grammar. V moses lose possesion pass nd na him d trek pas, mikel they loose but he they jug instead uf to mark, onazi de wrestle, iwobi they point hand, echiejile dez escort.U dnt want dis team to do wel more than me, i starv wen thez dnt win, do u? Love d truth plz. PLAY IHEANACHO DAT KNWR WEA GOAL POST IS EVEN 4RM OUTSIDE 18

  • Obruthe ufuoma 3 years ago

    Pls guys our ex coach did not say anything wrong, he is just saying is own observation and it is a good thing, but above all the present technical crew do know what they are doing I believe, do let just relax and hope they come out good. You all have spoken well. Great nigerians

  • JOSEPH 3 years ago

    Nice one from our ex coach,but we all hate the truth, but all the same eagles all the way.

  • shaynex 3 years ago

    BJ has said it all, its now left to the coach and player to rectify some mistakes in that team. I believe SE will qualify from that group cos those guys are determined and they will like to prove a point.

  • well done guys for all ur comments,am still shocked that people re still condemning the team.was it not same team that came of the qualifier where they had power house Camerooun and Algeria,Zambia?when the worldcup qualifier draws were made,many of you criticised the Eagles,and what happened at the end of the day.you can assess a team by friendly,your formation depend on ur opponents,if u re playing a team that has super midfielders like the brazilian,u can adopt 6-2-2,so u can cage the midfield,so there free flow of play.please lets just support GR,it is not easy to coach Africa Team esp Nigeria,cos everybody wants there players to be played.politics everywhere.God Bless you all

    • Chima E Samuels 3 years ago

      That was then not now. Past doesn’t play football let us get wisdom if you beat Cameroon yesterday and can not convert begging chances against Czech. Hmmm smh keep living on the qualifiers

  • for me what bonfere Jo said was right about our team but before I can’t say anything about the team performance it will be after our first match out come result.

  • it is disheartening to know that some people are still suffering from the lost of 2015 general election, which may be as a result of their action and inaction, i doubt if this country can move forward with wayward people like this in our mix, that always show disrepect for other people’s culture, religion and believes, it is high time they know what this platform stands for which is football not politics, i will advice them to keep their politics with themselves and their cohort.

  • Ajah sylvester dominic 3 years ago

    Bonfrere Sir, you know that the supper eagle have the zeal to win the world cup if you can examine thier enthusiasm. But you should also ask yourself why since the inauguration of fifa world cup, the eagle or any other African nation’s national team never reached semi final stage? .may be from there, the solution will come.why didn’t the super eagle win the us 94 under that magnificent coach. Forget this, all are the same. No matter how tactical the coach may be, if there’s still this inferiority complex or spirit of fear or incompetence on the part of the players, it cant still work. So let commit everything in the hand of the God of soccer and see what will be the outcome. Besides, criticism never helped in the past , why now. What everyone need to do is to support them, share the joy and or loss with our beloved players.

  • My predictions for super eagles games.Croatia 2 Nigeria 0,Nigeria 0 Iceland 1,Argentina 4 Nigeria 0.mark my words we are not going to score a goal talk of picking a point

    • Israel Akinlawon 3 years ago

      I will mark your words, and I will like you to give me your phone number. Opposite of everything you said would come to pass. #SoarSuperEagles.

  • Ihueze Michael 3 years ago

    That’s a good analysis. I hope the technical staff have heard this. We still believe Nigeria will deliver

  • if unfortunately we didn’t win a match what do you stand to gain from it, mr assailant?

  • John-Smart 3 years ago

    Nigeria and Croatia go surprisingly qualify to the dismay of Argentina and Iceland. No worry, nothing dey happen. Went e set, you go know say determination plus hard work important pass known names and past victories. God bless super eagles

  • Here lies the bane of our underdevelopment… A gross lack for clear and unbiased analysis. Complete disregard for critical thinking… A complete disconnect and constant denial of reports “we don’t like” instead we choose to hide under superstitious beliefs and wishful thinking. Abeg which person in his right mind here believes that Igalo can outscore Kane, Mo Salah or Amy other striker at this world cup?… Based on recent form… Who here thinks that Joel Obi will control a midfield better than Luca Modric?…

    The problem we face as a people is… If the truth is bitter, we can’t deal with it or brainstorm a solution, so instead we choose to go superstitious… When the shit hits the fan, that’s when we go running helter skelter.

  • bucho2 3 years ago

    Mr uzo, is joel obi nd Modric playin d same position in d midfield??? Compare Modrc him wit ur mikel nt obi

  • kelvin 3 years ago

    this is not the time for this,one spirit,good or bad i see the eagles winning their first two matches and drawing the last one in the group stages,,,,,bonfree joe should go to his country and leave us alone,ah ah!! dem swear for him?

  • After the defeat by Croatia, reality would set in. We have swollen egos and misplaced optimism. To use an untested rookie goalkeeper for worldcup games is planning to crash out early. No amount of prayers would bail us out.

  • muyiwa 3 years ago

    sincerely d true is so bitter, I pray by God grace will get to d second round.

  • i didn’t actually understand some naysayers on this platform, are they suggesting that we should boycott the 2018 Russia world cup, or what do they mean by the team will lost croatia match and bla bla bla. What pains me the most is that most of this critics are performing wolfully in their choosen career.

  • Good Question @Adinoi I beg ask them..may be we should not play and be coming home since Our camp is full of over hyped players , carpenters and tailors (not footballers) as some people here claims. It’ll be better na. .to avoid disgrace. Even the tournament that we carry uzoenyi, Gabriel reuben and Flavor go self..we won a match….Mchew. NAIJA ALL THE WAY!

    • I totally agree with u Sean. We should come together and fight every match. Whether we are good or not does not matter. Whether we are the best team or the worst team, we should give our best. That is what makes us great as Nigerians. We believe we are the best even if we aren’t and we will fight till the end. GOD BLESS 9JA!!!

      • Chima E Samuels 3 years ago

        Now you talk true here we believe we are best when we aren’t so lets fight to be

    • Chima E Samuels 3 years ago

      Haha haha haha I laff tire you don high bro flavour is Uchebo I guess

  • Sunnyb 3 years ago

    Adinol, or whatever, people have the right to express themselves or have dissenting opinions, by the way what makes you thinks most critics are performing woefully in their chosen careers, sounds like a typical unexposed, uncivilized Nigerian to me.

  • Me, I love my country,
    I love the land and people. Everything dey for NIGERIA, make we join hands make Nigeria better. GOD BLESS NIGERIA. Even if we lose every match, I am proud of our boys. All i want from them is to give an honest days work of playing their hearts out and playing for the pride of Africa, playing for the glory of Nigeria, playing for the hopes of their states, playing for the honor of their families and fighting for their individual dignity. The time of criticizing is over. We had 4 years to prepare, it is gone. This is the time of coming together and defending our race. GOD BLESS 9JA.

    • Chima E Samuels 3 years ago

      Thanks Chuks you said it all playing their hearts out is the only way