Jo Bonfrere says he is the 'right man' to coach Nigeria

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport, Lagos
Jo Bonfrere
Dutchman Jo Bonfrere led Nigeria's under-23 team to gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Dutchman Jo Bonfrere 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 previously guided Nigeria at the Nations Cup in 2000 and is keen to replace Sunday Oliseh who resigned from the post.

Bonfrere, who was sacked by Nigeria in 2001 after losing a World Cup qualifier in Sierra Leone, was also assistant Super Eagles coach from 1990 to 1994 and led Nigeria's under-23 team to gold at the Atlanta Olympics.

"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," Bonfrere told BBC Sport on the telephone from the Netherlands.

"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.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Amaju Pinnick has said they have no plans to appoint a local coach on a permanent basis.

Current under-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.

"Apart from Stephen [Keshi], the other local coaches have not succeeded because they cannot give what they don't have to take the team higher.

"Other foreign coaches have also failed because they come with the arrogant attitude of being a world class coach and a big name to perform magic there, and that wrong notion meant they had no passion, desire and the required knowledge to succeed on the job.

"I was very successful because I did not separate myself from the reality. I worked with youth and domestic players; I had faith in my Nigerian assistants and gave my best despite all the challenges.

"No one has done what I achieved and I believe I am the right man to return Nigeria to glory days in Africa and the world" said the Dutchman.

Bonfrere began his stormy romance with Nigeria in 1990, when he was the de facto assistant 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 Under-23 team to a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

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 won the silver medal.

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.

"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.

"You can't complain about criticism or ask for respect if you don't deserve it. I want another chance to set a standard that will help improve Nigeria football.

"Someone else will come and struggle because he has no idea where he is going but I'm the man to do it because I have proven that in the past."