FilGoal.com offers you a new part of the series “Forgotten Foreigners”, after we interviewed many of the most prominent foreign players in the Egyptian league this past Ramadan, and this year we are interviewing a number of foreign coaches who worked in Egypt.
“Forgotten foreigners” because they are not Manuel Jose, Josefaldo Ferrera or Hector Cuper, and yet they have left behind a trace that they deserve to be reminded of, it may be a positive or negative impact but it guarantees them to remain in the memory of the Egyptian League.
Bonfrere took the lead in Al-Ahly season 2002-2003 after he wrote an African history with Nigeria, who crowned him with the gold of the 1996 Olympics and led the green eagles for the 2000 African Nations Cup final.
The Dutchman started his career with Al-Ahly with a series of victories with 12 consecutive victories in the league, but the team bid farewell to the African Champions League which was holding its title early, then lost the league, which was leading by two points in the last round, in favor of Zamalek by the sudden fall against Enppi with the goal of Sayed Abdel Naeem.
FilGoal.com, with Bonfrear, will recall his memories in the Egyptian League, his cruel loss to the title in the last round, and why he has not repeated his achievements with Nigeria.
- Back to 2002, how did Al-Ahly contract with you?
I wanted to work in Al-Ahly during that time, so I only focused on showing it.
- Are you really a candidate to coach the Egyptian team in the same period?
No, I was talking only to Al-Ahly, I did not receive any offers to train the Egyptian team.
- What happened after the impressive start in the league and winning 12 consecutive games?
Nothing, after winning 12 games in a row, the only thing that could stop.
Some players are starting to think with their minds and think that the games have become easier.
- How did Al-Ahly lose the league in the last round against Enppi?
We reached an order to lose the league in the last 3 games because the big politicians wanted Zamalek to be Egypt’s champion, not Al-Ahly.
Look at the matches we played at the end of the league, how many goals we scored and the goals we received, compared to the rest of the matches throughout the season.
- Does this mean that you do not see Zamalek worthy of the title?
If the government says that Zamalek should be the champion, you cannot as a coach do anything against that, and this is what happened during this season.
Everything was prepared for Zamalek to win the league.
- who told you that?
During a meeting with the club president, his deputy and the ball manager who died after that – meaning Thabet Al-Batal – in my presence.
They told me that Al-Ahly would not be the league champion, and this decision came with higher orders from the government.
- Was that meeting 3 rounds before the end of the league?
Yes, I could not believe what they told me.
I smiled and told them how we could lose in these easy matches, then all of you saw it happened.
- But Al-Ahly lost the Enppi match only!
The meeting was 3 rounds before the end of the league, and that is the truth.
- And why did you agree?
What could I have done against government decision-makers when they tell everyone that Zamalek should be the league champion?
- Well, do you mean that Al-Ahly players intentionally lost from Enppi?
Yes, they had orders to lose the game and make some mistakes.
They were not the only ones involved in Al-Ahly’s loss, not only the players who caused Al-Ahly’s loss.
- Do you mean coaches?
No, it is not me because I tried to win these games, but you will definitely lose if you want to fight the government and the Football Association.
And also the people I met before losing the league, they used to say that we have nothing in our hands to do.
- But players such as Khaled Bebo, Walid Salahuddin and Hadi Khashaba criticized you for losing 3-1 from Zamalek, why did they hold you responsible?
They knew nothing about the game that was happening behind their back, and I couldn’t say anything.
See how Issam El-Hadary has been playing in the last 3 games.
- Did you mean that some players were complicit?
Yes, some of them received orders to play this way.
I don’t know them all but look at the matches, I was very surprised when I see these guys make such mistakes.
As a coach, you can’t do anything when players are asked to lose.
- Well, why did you leave Al-Ahly as long as the league loss was not because of you?
Indeed, losing the league was not because of me but by a government decision, but how do I work for a year and do my best to build a good team and win many matches.
And when we are close to winning the league, they come to tell us we are sorry, you will not win it.
In any case, who can believe me?
- Does this mean that you resigned?
I was named, but I can’t keep working that way.
I love to work hard for players, build a strong team and enjoy my work.
- How was your relationship with the assistant coaches?
Until around the end of the season I was satisfied with the work of the assistants, until the time came when someone stopped working and thought he would be the next coach.
- Do you mean Hossam Al-Badri?
Yes, it works differently after a while.
If you watch the games that we won and then the two games that we lost before the end of the league you will understand what I mean.
- But some think that you are successful as a coach, not clubs, what is your response?
I am a good coach for teams and clubs too, and look at the Emirati unit with whom I have made a whole new team and become a champion with me.
- Who was the best team you played against in Egypt?
There was no better team than Al Ahly for sure.
- Let’s change the question, who was the strongest competitor?
I don’t remember, the only thing I’ve always been saying to players is we’ll win the match and tell them how we’ll do it.
- Who was the best player you trained?
Defender Wael Gomaa and striker Khaled Bebo enjoyed speed and power, but the problem was his mentality.
- What is your assessment of the rest of the attackers Al-Ahly?
Muhammad Fadl was good even though he was young and not experienced.
As for Ahmed Bilal, he was physically stronger and works with great strength, but was less tactical.
- Finally, what do you say to Al Ahly fans?
I lost the League Championship but not because of my mistakes, I couldn’t say it and nobody would have believed me.
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