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Nigeria need facilities to unearth Messi— Leon Balogun

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Super Eagles Defender Leon Balogun has called out the Nigeria Football Federation over the quality of infrastructure provided for the Super Eagles and the non-payment of their match bonuses.

Balogun, who made his Nigeria debut in 2014, has been a regular fixture in Gernot Rohr’s squad with appearances at the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Rangers centre-back criticised the NFF for not making provision for facilities that will enhance the development of football talents in the West African country.

“You hear about other players, and why can’t they perform in the Super Eagles? We have to be honest, the infrastructure, we are not being provided with the best minerals to do our job,” Balogun told the Beautiful Game Podcast.

“It starts with pitches or it starts with accommodation but it goes on to pitches and all these kinds of things.

“If you say you want to see the next Messi coming out of Nigeria or the next Cristiano Ronaldo or whatsoever, if you want to see us so then you need to make sure that back home in Nigeria we have the best possibilities.

“Like why don’t we have a base in Nigeria where we meet up like St. George’s park in England? We don’t really have something like that.”

Another struggle for the Super Eagles after their international assignments is the difficulty in getting their bonuses and allowances alongside Rohr and goalkeeper coach Alloy Agu.

Balogun confirmed the financial challenge but NFF President Amaju Pinnick claimed they are working to pay off the debts back in January.

“About the bonuses, it’s not even a secret, I’ve read something recently where people in charge contradict themselves saying things have been paid then they admit they haven’t been paid,” he said.

The German-born defender added that his upbringing in the European country has helped him in expressing his opinions without any fear of oppression from the authorities.

“And as I said I’m always quite outspoken, probably I know if some people hear that they might come after me but I don’t care because that’s just how it is,” the 33-year-old continued.

“I think it’s also a matter of the culture, it’s a cultural thing to show respect in this kind of thing, also that’s something where I clash probably because I’m not afraid to speak my mind even if it’s with the coach or the manager if I feel like something is wrong I might at one point just talk about it and then it’s always like this boy is a troublemaker.

“I’m not a trouble maker, because at the end of the day I stand in for my teammates, I do that with pleasure and if I have to take the fall well, I probably did in the past.”

After signing a one-year contract extension in April, Balogun will begin the 2021-22 Premiership season with Rangers on Saturday when they welcome Livingston to the Ibrox Stadium.

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