Leon Balogun Reveals Qatar 2022 Ambition

After earning a recall to the Super Eagles, Leon Balogun has set his sights on playing for Nigeria at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Balogun’s international career looked to be nearing an end after he was displaced by Kenneth Omeruo as manager Gernot Rohr’s preferred defensive partner for William Troost-Ekong at the 2019 AFCON.

If a place on the bench was writing on the wall about of the end his international career, a more explicit message was sent when he was snubbed for the 2021 AFCON qualifiers against Benin and Lesotho last November.

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It marked the first time since the former Mainz centre-back who made his Super Eagles debut in a pre-World Cup friendly against Mexico in 2014 failed to make a national team squad for a competitive fixture when fit.

The Germany-born defender, however, looks a player reborn after he exchanged the wilderness of Premier League side Brighton for steady playing time at Championship strugglers Wigan Athletic.

His performances for the Latics which saw him earn a nomination for player of the month in February also earned him a recall to the national team for the 2021 AFCON qualifiers against Sierra Leone before the coronavirus-induced suspension of global sports activities.

And as he nears his 32nd birthday in June, Balogun insists he still has a lot to offer Nigeria and has no intention of hanging up his boots anytime soon. 

Speaking in an Instagram chat with comedian Funny Bone, Balogun who missed the 2014 Mundial with injury but played all three group games for Nigeria at the 2018 tournament in Russia said despite increased competition for places and his advancing years, he harbours hopes of playing at the 2022 World Cup at the ripe old age of 34.

He also revealed his ambition to play in the Champions League before he calls it quits from football.

“For the future, I would love to play in another World Cup with the Super Eagles,” Balogun said.

“I’m in good shape, there are other players coming through, but let’s see how it goes. I’m turning 32, but I have confidence.

“At club level, I’d love to play in the champions league still, realistically like to play at the highest possible levels, have great memories,” he added.