Former Super Eagles forward Jonathan Akpoborie has affirmed his belief in the Super Eagles centre-back pair of Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifier against Ghana.
Nigeria trade tackles against Ghana in a doubleheader that would decide who picks one of the five tickets for Qatar 2022. And even though on paper the Super Eagles have more quality than Ghana, any tie against the Black Stars can not be written off.
With the return of some stars who were not available for the last Africa Cup of Nations, coach Augustine Eguavoen would likely make a few tweaks to the team that started at AFCON. One of those changes could be in central defence.
Rangers defender Leon Balogun has been the usual suspect in centre-back, alongside William Troost-Ekong. The duo who started playing together under former coach Gernot Rohr have consistently delivered for Nigeria. Unfortunately, he was absent at the last AFCON due to injury.
Nonetheless, Balogun is back and fit and could return to the starting lineup at the expense of Kenneth Omeruo.
2000 Nations Cup Silver Medallist Akpoborie believes that that centre back pair should be able to do the job against Ghana.
“They’ve been our best pair in that position for some time now,” Akpoborie told Soccernet.
“I think Leon has picked up with the Super Eagles. In the beginning there were questions about his strength and African football.
“Troost-Ekong has been the strong man in our defence. In organisation of the defence, Leon is loud enough to actually push the players and arrange them when the opponents are with the ball,” he added.
Nigerian shot-stopper Maduka will not be available for the fixture, as he tested positive for Covid. However, Akpoborie hopes that anyone who takes his place would have the wherewithal to perform.
“The goalkeeper plays an important role in arranging the defence also. I hope Leon would be able to control that defence and arrange everybody when we are defending because I read the goalkeeper is injured and may not make the game. That’s another big blow for Nigeria.” he added.