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Monday, 7 May 2018

@Sports Africa: We have a team capable of doing well in Russia –Eagles defender, Balogun


Nigeria defender Leon Balogun has stressed that, it is crucial for his fellow Super Eagles team-mates to stay injury-free ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
Balogun told BBC Sport that, “We have a team capable of doing well in Russia and this team can perform to expectations if we have everyone in great shape.
“As a professional you don’t think so much about getting injured or avoiding it, you just give everything on the pitch for club and country.
“I know injuries come with football and if we are very lucky not have it, then all the players in Nigerian colours have the spirit to fight for success until the end.”
Nigeria, the first side from Africa to seal a spot in Russia, have been drawn in Group D alongside Argentina, Croatia and Iceland.
Unbeaten in qualifying and with impressive friendly victories against Argentina and Poland, Balogun says the fitness of players will be key to having a successful campaign this summer.
The Mainz defender also noted, “I was very unlucky to miss the last tournament in Brazil and we’ve seen changes since then (managers and players), but we now have a good spirit going into the World Cup.”
“Many players will be going for the first time and ready to shine on the biggest stage for football. It’s the dedication and passion that drives us as a team.
“Some so-called big teams will also miss players due to injuries but we can only hope for the best and go to Russia with the same spirit we have now,” said Balogun.
The Gernot Rohr’s side will be facing DR Congo in a friendly in Port Harcourt on May 28 and move on to take on a world Cup-bound England on June 2 at Wembley before their final warm-up fixture against Czech Republic on June  6.
Balogun also said, “We’ve enjoyed a good preparation so far and learning from our mistakes as well.
“These last three matches will give us a chance to get in the right place for the World Cup.”
The 29-year-old a leader at the back made his debut against Mexico in 2004 and has been called up 14 times by Nigeria.

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