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Nigeria’ll Excel At U-20 World Cup, Says Eagles Star

Oladipo Okubanjo

After being opportune to watch the Nigeria men’s junior national soccer team in build-up games and during training sessions, Leon Balogun has no doubt that the Flying Eagles have the capacity to succeed in their quest for laurels at this year’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand.

Balogun, a Nigeria international who plays for Darmstadt in Germany’s Bundesliga 2, had the privilege of meeting with the Flying Eagles at their Novia Hotel camp in Nuremberg. Darmstadt had recently lodged in the same hotel ahead of a league match.

From my hotel room I watched their training session and I saw a very skillful and physically very strong team,” said the center-back. “They beat two very promising second teams (Hoffenheim and Nurnberg) of Bundesliga clubs. “I have had the honour to meet with some of the Flying Eagles here, they are our future. They look very promising as they prepare to play at the Under- 20 World Cup.

“They are ambitious, they have a big chance and they are hungry, you can see this in their eyes. “They want to win the World Cup, that’s their goal, and the captain just told me. That’s the right mindset. “It was very promising what I saw. I hope they achieve their goal in New Zealand for the World Cup.”

Nigeria’s senior men’s team, the Super Eagles, will in a matter of weeks host Chad in the first of series of qualifying matches for the 2017 African Cup of Nations. Balogun, who made his debut for the Super Eagles shortly after they failed to secure a berth at the last Nations Cup in Equatorial Guinea, emphasized on the need to beat Chad.

“We have to take the first step and win this game because everybody expects us to be at the AFCON 2017 especially after we missed the last one. Hopefully, we will be successful this time,” he said.

Balogun, who had previously starred for Hannover, Werder Bremen and Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga, is optimistic of returning to the elite division with Darmstadt, hoping that it would aid his quest for a permanent role in the Super Eagles line-up. “We are looking forward to play in the Bundesliga,” he said. “I have managed to play for Super Eagles by playing in the second league and if I played in the Bundesliga, that would be even better.”

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