Balogun: ‘African Nations Cup Title Win Will Be Icing On The Cake’

Leon Balogun has revealed that winning the 2022 African Cup of Nations trophy with the Super Eagles of Nigeria will be the icing on the cake for him in his football career.

Balogun recently won the first league title of his football career after the central defender picked up the Scottish Premiership crown with his club-side, Glasgow Rangers.

After helping the Gers to the Scottish title, the club’s first since the year 2011, Balogun is focusing on sealing a spot for Nigeria at next year’s tournament in Cameroon.

“My business and my job is to make sure that my team, our country, Nigeria perform very well everytime, that I play my part in all matches and also make sure that I can be counted on.”

When asked if he really couldn’t wait to celebrate with Nigeria as well by winning a continental title, the defender said: ‘Probably, that will make it complete, I mean complete complete.

“I mean I have won something already with Nigeria, for me personally, playing a World Cup with the country is a big win already. But going ahead to win the 2022 African Cup of Nations will be the icing on the cake.

“And I believe that it is definitely worth striving for and also working very hard to achieve that great feat but then, we have to do the basics first and that starts within the next game against Benin.

“And probably, that is an answer to the question ‘what do we have to do?’ in the next game or what we even have to do differently, all I know is that we have to do the basics, right.

“Like I said before, for ninety minutes against Benin or even 180 minutes against both Saturday’s opponent and Lesotho, we will need 100 percent level of concentration to come out victorious.”

Balogun also urged all Nigerians to move on from the 4-4 home draw with Sierra Leone in Benin City, a result that effectively delayed Nigeria’s qualification for next year’s AFCON in Cameroon.

The Super Eagles were comfortably 4-0 up at half time after an Alex Iwobi brace and one goal each from Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze but they let that lead slip and shockingly drew 4-4.

Balogun during the media session with a host of Nigerian journalists at the Eko Hotel in Lagos said everyone must move on from that game and focus on Saturday’s clash with the Squirrels.

“The game against Sierra Leone wasn’t all that bad, I know a lot of people will disagree but I would take that on the chin,” he stated. “You don’t just score four goals and dominate the game like that.

“It was just that something happened that day that just went sideways and mistakes were made. So, it’s about eradicating, learning from them (mistakes) and advancing. But it doesn’t help anyone to keep going back to the game.

“It’s a new match on Saturday and we just have to make sure that we are the best of ourselves, minimise mistakes, focus on our strengths and put Benin in trouble.”

On what the Super Eagles need to do to come out of Port-Novo with a positive result, the versatile defender said: “We are motivated 100%, the preparations are very much on.

“It all comes down to the coaches to prepare us (the players) and make sure everyone is up to speed on how we want to approach the game and make sure we win it.

“We need to put Benin in trouble, ask them questions throughout the game that they (will) come short to answer. Are we going to go all out?

“Yes, we do that every time and hopefully, this time, this looks different than the game against Sierra Leone,” the 32-year-old summed up.

By Oluyemi Ogunseyin

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