Balogun Backs Super Eagles To Beat South Africa, Cameroon; Eyes Bundesliga Survival

Balogun Backs Super Eagles To Beat South Africa, Cameroon; Eyes Bundesliga Survival


Nigeria defender Leon Balogun has expressed confidence that with the calibre of players currently in the Super Eagles, the team should be able to beat Bafana Bafana of South Africa in June's 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo.

The Eagles will kick off their 2019 AFCON qualifiers when they host South Africa in their first Group B game. They will also face Seychelles and Libya in the group. 

In an interview with the Nigeria Football Federation, Balogun also spoke about the importance of securing the three points against  Cameroon in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier, his partnership with William Troost-Ekong and his performance with Mainz in the German Bundesliga.

Zenith Ziva

"The camping in the UK was very nice," Balogun told thenff.com. "I think we have a lot of players playing in Europe and it was good we were able to use the time to bond; it really would help as we continue to blend. There wasn't too much stress for us, as it was near by and everyone could quickly assemble. 
"Ahead of South Africa game, if we remain focused we have quality young players to beat any team in Africa.

"The thing is a coach guides a team, gives them ideas on how to play and also presents a team that will play so it doesn't matter whether they (South Africa) have a coach or not, it's the players on the pitch that matters. They are the ones who will perform and show their quality on the field. 

"Perhaps before we play them, they would have hired a coach who will still give them idea on how to play us so I think it will be an interesting game. I played against South Africa once before; I know they have quality players and it will be tough game. I expect a hard game against South Africa.

He added: "About Cameroon, it's a crucial game and a home game we must win.
"At home we have everything under our control, we must use that to our advantage. Another advantage is Uyo, our current home ground. Uyo has become a fortress for us. I think it is one of the reasons for our successes in recent times. 

"Uyo fans have shown so much love for the team and that has been very great. The ground is great and the training pitch is also good. And the Akwa Ibom State government has been very supportive of our cause. 

"Cameroon is a strong team, after winning AFCON 2017 they've built up their confidence but by the time we will play them it would be six months after their win in Gabon, we must show them we want the win more than they do. We need to make sure we get the maximum three points to take our points’ tally to nine; that will give us a big edge over other teams including Cameroon. 

"I'm seriously looking forward to the game; we want to show them that we are better than them. We are already dreaming of Russia 2018, but we know we must work harder. We will ensure we win all our matches especially our home games.

"William is my brother and both of us have played a couple of games together and we have formed a good partnership on the field of play. 

"Off the pitch, we are friends and that is having very positive impact on our game when we play together in the back-line for the Super Eagles. 

"We know each other and we know what the other is thinking, that has helped our game a lot. On the choice of the the training camp in France, it is a beautiful idea by the NFF as it will be good to be together for eight, nine days before we leave for Uyo.

"This season for the club has been exciting, though there has been a lot of ups and downs but we are fighting to survive and escape relegation. 

"I think from the last games we've played like those we played against Hertha (Berlin) and Bayern (Munich), we did our best and had fair results – a win against Hertha, and a draw against Bayern at the Allianz Arena. 

"Playing in three different competitions really affected us: That is the Europa League, DFB Pokal and the League. I think we've managed through and we will do well to escape relegation. 

"For me personally, the season could have been better. I would have loved to play more games but also you can see positive trend in the last games. I know it's all about the team and if that means that I don't get too many games I certainly understand that, the main thing is for the team to stay in the Bundesliga."

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