Femi Solaja with reports
Ahead of the African Cup of Nations in Egypt this summer, Super Eagles strongman in defense, Leon Balogun has said that he is more than determined to regain his starting position at Brighton & Hove Albion.
Balogun, who has formed the famous Oyinbo wall defense for Super Eagles alongside Troost Ekong has only made seven starts for his English Premiership side since he arrived as a free agent just before the last World Cup finals in Russia was not even listed in his club’s 0-1 home loss to Southampton last Saturday are just three legs above relegation zone.
But now he has vowed to help improve the fortune of the club so as to be in good form for Nigeria this June during the AFCON tournament in Egypt.
“It’s been difficult but that’s the manager’s call, I’ve just got to get on with it and hope for a chance,” says Balogun, who scored his only goal for the club in 3-1 win against Crystal Palace in December.
“I really hope to play a significant role in my first Nations Cup for Nigeria, but firstly I want to keep working hard to make a strong case for regular games at Brighton,” Balogun told BBC Sport yesterday.
Since scoring his first goal for Brighton four months ago, Balogun has made only four more appearances for Chris Hughton’s side in the league.
He also played twice in the club’s impressive run to the FA Cup semi-finals including the tricky fourth round win against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns in February.
Although his position in the Super Eagles setting is still guaranteed and he is one of the fans favorites anytime he wears the Nigerian colour, he however admitted that it has been tough for him and he is waiting for his opportunity.
“It’s very frustrating not to be involved but you can only keep your head up by focusing on helping the club when called upon,” the former Mainz man explained.
He said further that “what is important is to always put myself in the right place as usual. If I am needed anytime to start a game or come in, I’ll be ready for that, it’s all I can do.”
Only last December, Balogun became the first African player in the English Premiership to join the Common Goal campaign by pledging one percent of his wages to the charity.
In a related development, former Super Eagles defender, Taribo West, has backed the decision of coach Gernot Rohr to still believe in the player despite not having a regular shirt for his club in England.
” I really think he is the best defender we have at the moment because he adds something extra when he plays. Even the game against Egypt he was way impressive and didn’t play like someone who has not played football in over a month.
” Rohr can’t drop him now but after the Africa Cup of Nations if his club form stays same then the coach will have to make a decision for the good and future of the team and I think he is the best we have,” Taribo West explained.
Balogun, in Germany, Balogun, who has previously played for Hannover, Werder Bremen, Fortuna Düsseldorf and Darmstadt 98, has made 27 appearances for Nigeria.
He played all three matches at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.