By John Essien
Leon Balogun has reiterated his commitment to the Super Eagles after a defensive error on his part led to Nigeria’s World Cup qualifier defeat at Teslim Balogun Stadium a week ago.
Recall that a lack of communication between the Rangers defender and William Troost-Ekong gifted CAR’s striker Karl Namnganda the opportunity to score a memorable late winner against Nigeria.
Despite making up for that costly mistake with the opening goal of second-leg victory, the 32-year-old has restated his passion for the team.
“You’ve seen me play for a few years now. And you know that when I step onto the pitch I always give 100% and I am always passionate,” Balogun told ESPN.
“Whether I am having a good performance or a bad performance, you can never actually criticize me for not trying. That is what I always give, that is the least I can do,” he added.
Also speaking on Super Eagles qualification hopes, Balogun insists that his colleagues are aware of the heartbreak they would cause Nigerians if they miss the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Nigeria lead Group C presently with nine points after four matches, they were shocked by the Central African Republic last Thursday with a 1-0 loss in Lagos.
With games against Cape Verde and Liberia still to come in November and the play-off round among the 10 group leaders next year, Balogun disclosed that Gernot Rohr’s side understands the task ahead of them as Nigeria aim to make their seventh appearance in the global showpiece in November 2022.
“If it is important for you as a fan who is not on the pitch, but who is dreaming of seeing us play there, what do you think it means for us who are involved on the pitch?”
He continued: “You get the chance to play and it gets stolen away from you. So you can imagine your pain [as a fan] is the pain we feel, but our pain is your pain times a hundred probably.
“You are probably still going to get opportunities to go to the World Cup but we are going to be sidelined and watch it on TV, and that’s what hurts. So we understand [what it means],” he added.