Nigeria's Leon Balogun urges teammates to be strong after World Cup

Nigeria's Leon Balogun urges teammates to be strong after World Cup
Lionel Messi of Argentina (R) and Leon Balogun of Nigeria in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group D preliminary round soccer match between Nigeria and Argentina in St.Petersburg, Russia, 26 June 2018.

by Phumzile Ngcatshe

Friday Jul 06, 2018. 16:00

Nigerian international defender Leon Balogun has urged his teammates to learn football's darker arts following their 2018 FIFA World Cup exit.

The Super Eagles exited the tournament last week when losing to Argentina, who later crashed out on Saturday in the Last 16.

According to the centre back, he has called on his teammates to be a bit dirty in their approach and said they must forget the tournament and move on.

Balogun was one of the more experienced figures in a Nigeria squad that was the youngest of all the teams in Russia, with an average age of 25.

"It's always important when you play internationals to be a bit dirty," the 30-year-old told BBC Sport.

"That's what Argentina has, definitely, and you also need to be cold-blooded - that's probably the most important (lesson from this World Cup).

It will be very important to keep going the way we have started.

"We have experienced players, young players, talented players - and there are even more players that are not in the team yet - and we have to keep developing them and investing in their football education.

"We just have to keep working and keep our focus on advancing year after year and then in the next four years we will have a good team - maybe an even better one.

"Everyone was just trying to deal with the loss and move on, so it was a quiet dressing room but definitely one that learnt a lot and hopefully formed some players.”

Under coach Gernot Rohr, the West Africans finished third in Group D after losses to Croatia and Argentina, but bagged a 2-0 win over Iceland.

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