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Africa Sports News of Thursday, 14 October 2021


Super Eagles understand the pain of missing the World Cup - Balogun

Leon Balogun insists that the Super Eagles are aware of the heartbreak they would cause Nigerians if they miss the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.

Although 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.

The Wild Beasts grabbed a memorable win courtesy of a 90th-minute strike from Karl Namnganda.

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 understand 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," Balogun told ESPN.

"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]."

The Rangers centre-back also reiterated his commitment to the Super Eagles after his lacklustre defending cost them a 1-0 loss at the Teslim Balogun Stadium a week ago.

Balogun made up for the error with the opening goal in Nigeria’s 2-0 victory over the Central African Republic on Sunday after slotting home a cross from Chidozie Awaziem in the 29th minute.

"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,” he added.

"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."