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Odegbami: The ‘Coronavirus’ In Nigerian Football, Again!

Odegbami: The ‘Coronavirus’ In Nigerian Football, Again!

The world is definitely passing through one of its ‘worst’ chapters in human history.

When all of this is over, when this health crisis comes to an end, ‘when the hurly- burly’s done, when the battle’s lost and won’ (Shakespeare), we shall find that our world, the way we knew it, had come to an end. Nothing will be the same again. And it should not be the same, not with the way we were destroying the planet that the Creator gave us to enjoy and to nurse, and definitely not with the way we were ill-treating one another as human beings on the same planet.

It was certain that mankind was heading for an environmental, spiritual, social, economic and cultural catastrophe. It was certain that mankind was cultivating an unhealthy, unjust, inhumane, wicked and vanity-driven world and system. It was all insane. Things could never have continued the way they were going, because we were heading for self-destruction.

Then came Coronavirus to halt everything, to slow down our slide into hell, to bring us back to sanity. Since we could not do it ourselves nature had to intervene. That’s my humble interpretation.

The end result of all this is a fresh opportunity for true globalization of our humanity, a restoration of values and of goodness, of nature cleansing the environment by itself, and a warning to homo sapiens that this could be their last chance to either nurse their planet back to life, or lose their own life forever.

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I am talking sport.
Yes, I am. What other activity in the world has promoted the spirit of peace, the spirit of unity, the spirit of friendship, the spirit of community, the spirit of universal equality more than sport? Sport is the healthiest, the safest, the most unifying, the friendliest, the most integrating, and the most rewarding and profitable activity on the planet, yet we treat it with kid gloves, we let its worst actors take the centre stage, control it, dominate it, rule it, destroy it and make the rest of us a part of the resultant mess.

Even in our own little space in Nigeria, in our football ‘planet’, we see what is going on and do nothing to make it work correctly. The state of Nigerian football is a reflection of who we are as a country, full of unfulfilled potential, wasteful, corrupt. We only need to take a cursory look at any sport in the country, and be faced with the ugliness of what we have got ourselves into.

After the natural cleansing that must follow the plague of today, Nigeria must not return to her old ways again. The cleansing must include sport, and it must take the lead.


Jo Bonfrere with former Super Eagles assistant coach and current NFF Technical Director, Bitrus Bewarang, at the Agege Stadium Lagos

My attention is drawn to some recent developments and conversations around Nigerian football in the past few days.

Bonfrere, the Dutch trainer that was elevated to the position of coach by a segment of the Nigerian sports media and made to take the Nigerian national team to the Olympic games in Atlanta, is either back in the country, or making noises to attract some attention.

He is reported to have alleged that in 1994, his boss, the man who brought him to Nigeria as a trainer, the most successful Foreign coach in Nigeria’s football history, Clemens Westerhof, collected a 100,000 Dollars bribe to lose the match against Italy at the USA ’94 World Cup.

The evidence he has is that Nigerians should go and ask one of the players in the team.

Can someone please wake me up to tell me this is a bad dream?

My questions are these: Who is Bonfrere? What does he want to achieve by unearthing this very acidic story some 26 years after, and at point in time when Nigerians are passing through hell with bigger challenges? Does he earn our attention and to be believed?

Here is a person whose records are of the worst level of disloyalty and betrayal. He took over his benefactor’s job behind his back. He has now brought us an unsubstantiated allegation that has no basis, no evidence, and that can only come from the pit of hell, to nail the same man that raised him from obscurity into limelight 26 years ago.

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I have never heard such crap in my life. You mean, this is the kind of news we want to hear in our lives in our country at this time? Such a serious allegation and he directs us to get the evidence from one of our own players? Would the un-named player not be complicit should he have known any such thing all these years and kept quiet?

No one needs to waste time to investigate anything, or even give this man any credence or recognition. He should go elsewhere to spread the poison of his treacherous ways. Since he finished his work with Nigeria where has he been? What teams has he coached? What has he achieved for himself in football? Are we that gullible and such Mumu to even listen to him?

My advice to the man is that he should go and seek forgiveness, and not come to pollute our season of penance.

By the way, I was an integral part of the 1994 squad. I was the team manager in the background, but deep inside the great and later tragic events of the World Cup. I was an eye witness sitting on the bench with the team, shuttling between the players and their coach as their relationship steadily and irreconcilably broke down on the eve of the Italian match. I saw it all.

There was nothing anybody could have done. It was too late. The relationship between coach and players had broken down completely before the start of the match. The team wishfully hoped their good ride will sustain through that match, but they were happy to have arrived at that unprecedented stage. They needed something extra to take them beyond Italy, to the next level. They lost that ‘thing’ in their loss of Westerhof’s input, even though they played an absolutely brilliant game until the dying minutes.

The team got what it deserved. It had nothing to do with a bribe!

What does Mr. Bonfrere want now? For us to give him another chance at coaching the Nigerian team again? ‘God forbid bad tin’, as my people will say. Bonfrere is taking us for fools.

That’s how we were taken for a ride at the 1998 World. Bora, the foreign coach that took us there went on the best vacation of his life to France ’98. He must be the least deserving coach that Nigeria had ever hired. He did nothing. He collected our money, spent most of the time taking pictures and having fun, and left Nigeria high and dry.

These foreign coaches have been taking us for suckers for too long. We have been fools for too many seasons. I think the time to end it all is now. That means dealing with what to do with Gernot Rohr.

Following what has transpired recently, where the President of the Nigeria Football Federation went public with what the federation intends to offer the German, everyone knows that the motivation for such disclosure is an unofficial offer designed for Rohr to reject.

The German is no longer an attractive option for Nigeria’s future for so many reasons, including fallouts from the Coronavirus pandemic. Nigeria does not want a coach who will accept any offer simply because he needs a job. That is the mark of desperation. He has not even been made an offer. He does not need to be offered one.

Once his contract expires, except if there is a clause that says a negotiation with him must be held, the German has served Nigeria well, and must now go to seek his fortune elsewhere.

If you ask me, we have tasted Gernot Rohr, and he is not sweet enough. Let us try our own.

Unless something is wrong with us, except we want to remain enslaved to inferiority complex, we must end this unproductive romance with foreign coaches who come to do what we can do ourselves.

In the new world order after Covid-19 pandemic we must sink or swim with our own.

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  • Uncle Shege, ive always been following your posts and ingenuity. However, I think we should rather unravel the circumstances surrounding this allegations rather than outrightly discarding it. Also, i wish to refer you to one of your articles where you opposed to paying foreign coaches in dollars. I also support this but picking local players is backwardness except our league is highly competitive

  • Chima E Samuels 1 year ago

    Oga Segun please who should be the coach leave Rohr he is not excellent but at the same time not bad. No better coach will accept our poor football administration. Siasia the only option has been given red card by FIFA. The rest of our local coaches has no decent record with any team.

  • Why is Segun Odegbami against the investigation? Though the outcome of it if ascertained as true and correct may mark him too as an accomplice to the Crime along with Bonfere jo,westerhof, and the said player(s) and their partners from the Italian end…and fifa should come down hard on them and bank them all for life…

  • Oakfield 1 year ago

    Old shameless fool that doesn’t want to rest. Make una see how una elder reasons. Like a mentally sick idiot!!!! Destar and co make una come and lick his ass o, he deserves una respect. Fools!!

  • Pompei 1 year ago

    I will always respect Odegbami the footballer. Odegbami translated into English means “The hunter who saved me” (my fallible attempt at translating). Indeed, Mathematical was a GOAL HUNTER who saved Nigeria many times with crucial goals. So, he has my respect for that.
    On the flip side, I respectfully disagree with his opinions (which he is entitled to).
    I disagree with Mathematical’s suggestion that the Bonfrere allegation that the Italy match was sold should not be investigated. That in my opinion, is the most painful defeat we’ve had to endure in our football adventure. We dominated the game, we had the Italians were we wanted them, we were the better side. What happened? How on earth did we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on that day? We need to get to the bottom of the issue, and punishment needs to be meted out to all involved, if the accusation holds up!
    I disagree with Mathematical’s insistence that Rohr must go. Rohr picked up a team that was in the doldrums, languishing and stagnating in football terms. A team that failed to qualify for 2 consecutive Afcons. A team that was number 70 in the world rankings! A couple of years later, we have a young, strong, vibrant, robust squad, that can hold its own against any team in the world. We almost beat a strong Ukraine at home, we could have beaten Brazil as well. We qualified for the world cup and Afcon with games to spare. At the Afcon, we won 5 matches. 5 matches! We lost to a very good Algeria team in the Afcon semis (via a last minute Mahrez freekick that as fortunate as it was ingenious), but we picked ourselves up and defeated a strong Tunisia to grab the bronze. If this is not progress, then I don’t know what progress is. And if this is progress, we are morally and contractually bound to reward the efforts of the man working behind the scenes, the man who’s arrival coincided with our steady rise in the world football scene….GERNOT ROHR.
    Mathematical insists that our future should consist of a national team handled by Nigerians. I respectfully disagree. I think that our future should be a national team handled by the MOST CAPABLE people we can find. I don’t care where they come from. Oyibo, Arab, Indian, wherever. As long as they are the best we have access to, and we can afford them.
    Of course, it is somewhat desirable to have Nigerians at the helm. But to insist on Nigerians, at the detriment of meritocracy, is to become the evil that we have been decrying all along! If we insist on Nigerians only, how are we different from the xenophobes and the Nazis of times past? How are we different from the racists? We must not lower our values in a twisted attempt to achieve an ideal that is not rooted in sound reasoning.
    To get rid of Rohr now will be one of the most calamitous football mistakes we will ever make. Even if we replaced him with a world class coach, that coach would still need time to get up to speed, whereas Rohr is gathering momentum, and the only direction Rohr can go right now is up.

    • KangA 1 year ago

      Agreed. Unfortunately, Odegbami’s articles are getting so predictable. He starts with some sweeping statements on how sports is the panacea for current global statements. Then he quickly fans down to how this applies to Nigeria, soon conning down to soccer, and then–you guessed it–that Nigeria should purge itself entirely of foreign influence, hence Rohr should be sent packing. I understand he was unable to sign with a foreign club during his playing days. Is he carrying a vengeance in his soul? Was Rohr responsible for that? If other less endowed players could find foreign clubs, why couldn’t he? Negativity?

      And he is shouting that Rohr should be sent packing because he is a “FOREIGNER”. Is he aware that there are thousands if not millions of Nigerians living and working abroad? Some going to the third generation? My humble self, now second generation. We still call Nigeria home. I understand the remittance from these Nigerians are currently above what the country earns on its own.

      Is this man a looney?

      Why should we hand over the SuperEagles to coaches who can’t even qualify our home-based team for CHAN? So that they reap where they did not sow?

      Never!!! Rohr stays.

  • Adebowale 1 year ago

    Remembering our match against Italy in 1994, what comes to my mind very vividly now is the negative tactics of the Italians to eliminate our two best strikers on the pitch that day viz Amokachi and Amonike. With them playing till the final witsle, we could have scored more goals. The substitution was poor as Olia who came in as a substitute could not do much. I think we should learn our lesson from that match and move ahead. On Rohr, I think my football idol, Mr Patrick Olusegun Odegbami should respect the opinions of the majority of the football lovers in Nigeria and move to the next topic. Nigerian coaches should work harder to merit the confidence of Nigerians. Our best National Team Coach should come from anywhere. What we need is quality and the present deserves to continue on his job even if he’s despirate. Desperation could be the tonic to success.

  • Chris 1 year ago

    @Dr. Drey where are you? Please give this “Mathematical” elder a “Further Mathematics” reply from your always loaded guns.

    @Dr. Drey, Show him no mercy, it’s time we use “tetracycline” to treat our football virus.

    @Dr.Drey, on behalf of the fans and air conditioners that follow you on this platform, we await that reply only you can serve without fear, favor or flavor.

    @Dr. Drey if up till now you’re still loading extras into your canon, I advise everyone on this platform to go get a face mask, a helmet, and a sanitizer because it’s going to be operation “CLEAN”.

    • Dr. Drey 1 year ago

      Hahahaha @ Chris.

      Biko I am not Snipper o! LMAO.

      But I’ll like to borrow the late Abami Eda’s song – stalemate

      “….Two women bring argument 2 u, wey start from dem gossip,
      Dem want make u give dem answer into dem gossip argument,
      Or make u settle the matter wer u no knw the beginning or the end
      You go say hmmm stalemate….Oro di hmmmm…..Oro pe’si je o…. Oro di hmmmm….”

      My brother….this Bonfrere Jo matter tie gele o. And the manner in which Uncle Segun just suggests that we quickly dismiss it with the wave of a hand even wear agbada, tuck am inside boxers come wear soccer boot join am. It looks like the way you quickly hide your food under the bed when that your longthroat friend who only visits when you have just cooked is approaching.

      Even when a man speaks under the influence of alcohol, he most times speaks from the “bottom-pot of his tummy” (apologies to Chief Zebrudaya) what he doesn’t have the guts to ordinarily say.

      Unless Bonfrere has a recent history of mental illness, I don’t think he would just make weighty allegations such as this out of nowhere.

      Even though it sounds unthinkable…”how on earth will players and coach mortgage a place in history for $100k…?” But when we recall that even something more important than history has once been mortgaged for a plate of porridge, then we shouldn’t allow this one to be so much of a shock.

      There are many reasons why we should dismiss Bonfrere’s moonlight stories just as Uncle Segun is advising….but I hope one day, someone amongst “the players” would be brave enough to tell us how monkey hand enter inside soup….not for us to punish or judge anyone, but for us to forestall a recurrence (if at all it did happen).

      The super eagles camps since 1994 has never been short of controversies….since govt started constituting committees of noisemakers and their concubines to be following the SE to every tournament. These committees (of which Mr mathematical has been a part of a couple of such committees in the past) have often been the ones to instigate commotion and sabotage in camp and cause our team to fail, either to get rid of FA chairmen, coaches or players who are not in their good books. Every tournament we have been to since 1994 always has some hidden story of sabotage behind it. Only Keshi managed to nip it in the bud (based on experience, by dumping Mr. 100caps and IK out of the team) only to sabotage himself with low quality team selection to the WC because of personal gains.

      So on this matter all I can say is….THERE IS NO SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE…

      Na Sidon look wey dey.

  • Sean 1 year ago

    Hmmm…just like @KangA said, Mathematical Odegbami’s write-up are getting so predictable. May be ‘cos..
    1) he never had the opportunity to play under any foreign coach except Otto Gloria(80)
    2) He played when majority (if not all) of the National Team players were Home based no gist about how things were run in Europe or other continents then.
    3)Like Buari, May be his Vision is old. He can no longer see what we are seeing again…he refers to the past in his write ups too much. That’s why he loves to mention Old player names without football written records as the best we’ve had.
    From History… Nigeria got their recognition under Foreign Coaches.
    Otto Gloria (First Nations Cup)
    Westerhorf (Qualified for First World cup)
    Bonfere (Olympic Gold).
    So..for now our relationship with a foreigner is a match made in heaven.
    May be later…it will work with homebased but surely… Not now.
    In Rohr we trust.