New signing at Brighton Hove Albion of England, Leon Aderemi Balogun has advocated a switch to ‘hard football’ for the Nigerian national team, as a way of making greater impact on international soccer.
After failing to help the Super Eagles go beyond the group stage at the ongoing World Cup in Russia, the former Fortuna Dusseldorf, Darmstadt and SV Mainz of Germany stopper reckoned that it was because the team was ‘too soft.’
Despite winning just 22 caps, Balogun is one of the more experienced figures in a Nigeria squad that was the youngest of all the teams in Russia, with an average age of 25.
The Eagles finished third in Group D after defeats by Croatia and Argentina either side of a 2-0 win over Iceland.
The victory kept them in contention until just four minutes from the end, when Marcos Rojo’s late strike sunk Nigeria and ended a World Cup that had promised more.
Baolgun, who clocked 30 just a day after Nigeria’s ouster, is now of a view that, in their subsequent matches and competitions, the Eagles must play the hard way.
Balogun said: “It’s always important when you play internationals to be a bit dirty. That’s what Argentina has, definitely, and you also need to be cold-blooded – that’s probably the most important.
“It will be very important to keep going the way we have started. We have experienced players, young players, talented players.
“There are even more players that are not in the team yet – and we have to keep developing them and investing in their football education.
“We just have to keep working and keep our focus on advancing year after year and then in the next four years we will have a good team – maybe an even better one.”