Speculation has reached an all-time high that Brighton & Hove Albion of England defender, Leon Aderemi Balogun might have left the Super Eagles’ camp in Dnipro, Ukraine in anger, following his exclusion from the Nigerian squad’s starting line-up for the friendly encounter on Tuesday.
Although Eagles’ coach, Gernot Rohr said Balogun had been given permission to fly back early to England due to a niggling injury he had been battling with, camp sources insist that was only a diplomatic manner of covering up for the Germany-born stopper.
However, insiders went on to point out that Balogun did not complain about any injury on arrival at the Eagles’ camp much earlier than most of the other players, and his complaint only came to light on the very day of the match, which the Eagles went on to draw 2-2, after giving away a two-goal lead from the first half.
Camp sources added that Balogun had initially being lining himself up for a starting role as Eagles’ stand-in assistant captain, having worn the band on two previous occasions under Rohr, and due to his status as the most senior player on offer for the game, only to get a rude shock that Semi Ajayi, who now longer plays in central defence was preferred ahead of him.
A report by owngoalnigeria added: “Balogun was among the early arrivals at the camp of the team ahead of the game but he was missing from the matchday squad with Chidozie Awaziem coming on for William Troost-Ekong when he went out injured.
“It was coach Gernot Rohr who told the players that Balogun has been allowed to fly back to England on the day of the match.
“According to Rohr it’s for him to get proper medical treatment as he is expected to line up for Brighton when they play their next game in the cup in England, a statement which many find hard to believe judging by Balogun’s unhappiness over losing his spot in the team.
“At the Africa Cup of Nations Kenneth Omeruo was preferred as partner to Ekong and with Omeruo absent Balogun was hoping he will get the nod to reignite his “Oyibo Wall” pairing with Ekong but Rohr decided to pick Ajayi which didn’t go down well with the German-Nigerian defender.
“Due to his lack of games at English Premier League side Brighton, Balogun has dropped down the pecking order in the team as Rohr is keen on rewarding players who are regulars at their clubs ahead of the ones not getting game time.”