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Soccer News of Wednesday, 4 May 2022


Why Clemens Westerhof is Nigeria's most successful coach

Clemens Westerhof and members of the Super Eagles team of 1994 play videoClemens Westerhof and members of the Super Eagles team of 1994

MyNigeria Feature

Clemens Westerhof is regarded as one of the most successful managers to take charge of Nigeria's men's national team. The Dutch-born coach who was born in 1940 turned 82 on May 3.

Westerhof began his coaching career as an assistant coach with Feyenoord Rotterdam in the Dutch Eredivisie. The other teams he has managed are Vitesse Arnhem, the Zimbabwean national team, the Sporting Lions of Zimbabwe's Premier League, and the Bush Bucks and Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa's Premier Soccer League.

In addition to coaching, he has served as technical director of the Harare-based Agatha Sheneti Youth Academy and also of the Harare United club, which was linked to the Academy. In 2001, he was technical director of Dynamos FC, Zimbabwe's biggest club, but lasted in the position just a few months.

Despite the relative success he achieved in the aforementioned roles, he is best known for his success with the Nigerian national team in 1994. Under his tutelage, Westerhof guided the Super Eagles to victory in the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and
also qualified for the second round of the FIFA World Cup that year.

What endeared him to fans was the impact he had on the team after he was signed by the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) in 1989 to manage the team after the national team had failed to qualify for the World Cup in 1990.

The team missed out on the tournament after its inability to get at least a draw away from Cameroon on the last day of qualifying.

Westerhof set about rebuilding the team. His effect was immediate, as Nigeria reached the final of the 1990 African Cup of Nations where they lost 1–0 to the host nation Algeria.

In the lead-up to the 1992 African Cup of Nations, the Nigerian team which had adopted the nickname "Super Eagles" since losing controversially to Cameroon in the 1988 African Cup of Nations final match tried to justify the tag thanks to their recent winning run under Westerhof.

They placed third in that tournament, losing to archrivals Ghana in the semi-final.

The Dutch coach is described as one who turned Nigeria into a football powerhouse in African football while showing that they and other African nations can compete with the best of the best in the world in international football.

He is responsible for what could be described as a "golden" period in Nigerian football. Players such as Jay-Jay Okocha, Sunday Oliseh, Nwankwo Kanu, Rashidi Yekini, Daniel Amokachi and others, who all went on to successful careers with various high-profile European clubs, entered the world spotlight while playing under Westerhof.

This article was written by Novieku Babatunde Adeola | Twitter: @NoviekuA