Nigeria defender Leon Balogun, who features for promotion-gunning SV Darmstadt 1898 in Germany, has backed the Flying Eagles quest to win the U20 World Cup in New Zealand.
The right fullback also spoke on the Super Eagles ahead of next month’s AFCON 2017 qualifier against Chad as well as his club’s big push to play in the Bundesliga next season.
Leon, you have just met with some of the Flying Eagles players as your team were also booked in the same hotel with them. How did it go?
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 U20 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.
From my hotel room I watched their training session and I saw a very skillful and physically very strong team. They beat two very promising second teams (Hoffenheim and Nurnberg) of Bundesliga clubs.
It was very promising what I saw. I hope they achieve their goal in New Zealand for the World Cup.
The Super Eagles begin their qualification for the 2017 AFCON against Chad at home in Kaduna next month. How are you looking forward to this game should you be called up?
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.
Turning to your club, how big a result was the recent 1-0 win at Karlsruhe?
It was a big step in the right direction.
What is your last game of the season?
It will be next Sunday against St.Pauli. It will be another tough one because they are also fighting against relegation. We will play it simple, like the 33 games before.
When you do get promoted, could you stay up in the Bundesliga, which is a tough competition on its own?
We will see because we have to make some improvements then. We are looking forward to play in the Bundesliga.
What has been your experience in the Bundesliga?
I played 23 games for Hannover, Werder Bremen and Fortuna Dusseldorf.
So, it would be good get up there and this could well improve your chances with the Super Eagles.
I believe so. I have managed to do this by playing in the second league and if I played in the Bundesliga, that would be even better.
Now looking back, was this the best decision to join Darmstadt 1898?
It turned out as the perfect decision for me. I would not have expected this. I had my time to recover from my injury. The trainers trust me 100%, that’s what I need so I could also give it back.
Everybody said we would be the first team to go back to the third league again. And now we are in second position on the table with a game to the end of the season.
What really decided it for you to join Darmstadt?
They were very eager to have me, they really pushed and even when I said I won’t sign, they kept on pushing me. In the end, I agreed that we gave it a try and it was perfect.
Now when does your contract with Darmstadt end?
It ends after the season. We are negotiating right now.