The newest faces in the Super Eagles ahead of Wednesday’s international friendly against the El Tri of Mexico are the duo of Leon Balogun of German side Fortuna Dusseldorf and Standard Liege of Belgium’s Imoh Ezekiel and incidentally both players are sharing a room together at the team’s camp and they seem to like it.
Ramon Azeez and Michael Uchebo are also new in the setup but the former are newer and have created sensation the last 48 hours.
Balogun, who came into the team’s W. Buckhead Hotel moments before dinner on Monday has beenon the radar of the coaching crew for a little while and the time was just ripe for him to join his dream national team. With skipper of the side, Joseph Tambarin Yobo, forced out of the international friendly due to injury, while featuring for his English Premiership side, Norwich City he is seen as a natural replacement for the most capped Nigerian international.
Head Coach Stephen Keshi has said he is not too happy about the latest setback for Yobo and wishes him a quick recovery even as he said Balogun has been trailed for a long while before now. “ He is not replacing Yobo at all. Yobo was still bent on coming for the game even if just to support the team but I told him to relax and recover quickly for the World Cup.
We have to look to the future and that is why we called up Balogun, he has been in our plans for a long time and it was just time that he steps out into the team for us to see what he can do and I must say I am glad that he responded well and the boys here also welcomed him well. We also have an opportunity to see Imoh who is a part of the system now for us to see what they can do to make the team better, we must look ahead”, Keshi said.
Standin skipper Vincent Enyeama, was very glad at the invitation of Ezekiel and Balogun and has been doing all he could to integrate all the new players into the system, something Yobo is also known for. “Make una see our new brothersooo,” he said as he hugs Imoh and points to Balogun at the dinner table Monday night.
The half cast Leon Balogun has been the shock here to many as he seems to have known all the players for a long while, going by the manner he relates with all of them. The team will have a full house training session Tuesday at the Georgia Dome, by 8pm local time (2am Nigerian time), when the match will be played on Wednesday evening in Atlanta and Thursday morning in Nigeria.
All the players invited for the friendly are now in Atlanta. The last to step in was Godfrey Oboabona, whose flight was delayed in Chicago due to bad weather forcing him to negotiate another route to Atlanta. “We are here to give our best and defend our national colours very well”, said Enyeama.