INSIDE AFCON 2019: Troost-Ekong Draws Positives From Nigeria’s Third Place Finish (AUDIO)

Man-of-the-match in Nigeria’s 1-0 win over Tunisia in the third-place match of the 2019 Africa Nations Cup, William Troost-Ekong says finishing third is “a good achievement” and predicts an “exciting future” for the Super Eagles.

The 25-year-old centre-back was named man-of-the-match after he helped marshal a back-line which kept Tunisia quiet after Odion Ighalo had scored what proved eventually to be the winner in the third minute.

And speaking after the match at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo, the Udinese defender said that the team had to make the best out of their AFCON campaign after they missed out on the final and ending on a winning note ensured that they took “something home” from Egypt.  

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“I think from these circumstances, it’s the best that we could get and of course we are disappointed not to play in the final, but when you play in these kinds of games you want to make sure you can take something home and I think we did that today so it’s a good achievement,” Troost-Ekong said.

Being named the best player on the pitch three days after he suffered the nightmarish misfortune of turning the ball past his goalkeeper in the 2-1 semifinal loss to Algeria on Sunday was particularly remarkable feat and the defender attributed his ability to shake off such unfortunate incidents to a philosophy which urges stability in both “good moments and bad moments”.

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“Well that’s the beauty of football I think, I think the game before that I scored a goal that took us to the semifinal, and the game after that I think a lot of people at home probably criticized me for that own goal but, it happens it was an accident and you have to try and battle through that and I think through good moments and bad moments you have to try and play stable and I tried to do that today and I’m happy I can help the team again.”

There has been a lot of talk about the potential of this Nigerian side who with an average age of 24.8 years-old was the joint third youngest at the competition with many predicting a period of dominance soon.

It is an assessment Troost-Ekong agrees with and the defender believes the youthful disposition of this present Super Eagles represents “the power of our team” .

With so many young players in the team, Troost-Ekong believes this present iteration of the national team which only played together as a unit in a tournament for the first time at the 2018 FIFA World Cup has the potential to compete in many more tournaments for a long time and says Nigerians can look forward to “very exciting” times once more.  

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“I think that’s the power of our team, I think after the World Cup we said that we wanted to do something special at the AFCON because it was our first experience together, but I think if you look at the team today, the average age is 24 and I think we should be able to play a lot more AFCONs together and hopefully another, maybe one or two World Cups.

“I think we can only get better and better so, I think the future is very exciting for Nigeria,” he declared.