Rangers star Leon Balogun earned instant retribution for Nigeria after a tough week of negative coverage following a major mistake for his country.
The Ibrox defender, 33, was hounded by Super Eagles fans for a costly mistake against the Central African Republic which led to the nation’s first home World Cup Qualifying defeat in 40 years.
As the BBC explain, the 1-0 defeat against the so-called “Wild Beasts” – ranked 124th in world football – caused “outrage” in Nigeria with the nation having similar expectations to Rangers.
That is, the team is expected to win every, single game without fail. That might explain why there are three Rangers star’s in the Super Eagles squad.
Balogun got himself into a mess as he tried to clear a ball over the top and contributed to the late Karl Namganda winner, with the players needing riot police protection from fans at full time.
“We are the ones who played and are in deep pain,” said Balogun.
Leon Balogun earns near-instant Nigeria reprieve
Football is a funny old game and Nigeria would be offered the chance of a near instant reprieve as they travelled to the Central African Republic for a return World Cup Qualifier just days after the defeat.
Balogun and fellow Ibrox star Joe Aribo would start the match in Bangui but it was the defender who popped up with a stunning opener to help dampen the fire of the earlier defeat.
The defender would somehow find himself in the opposition box to make it 1-0 with a stunning first half volley before Napoli striker Victor Osimhen made it two before the half-time whistle.
The result and goal will go someway to mending Nigerian hearts following the shock defeat in Lagos and Balogun will be delighted to be the man who kickstarted the victory.
However, the match would be overshadowed by an injury to Balogun who adds to Rangers’ defensive woes by going off in the 74th minute of the match.
Calvin Bassey made to wait for Nigeria debut after maiden call-up
Whilst it’s certainly been an up-and-down international break for Nigeria and Leon Balogun in particular, one Ibrox star who earned his first call-up to the side has been made to wait for a debut.
Alongside Leon and Gers midfielder Joe Aribo – who played in both matches against the CAR – Calvin Bassey was called up to the Nigeria squad.
But whilst the experience of joining up with his new international teammates for the first time would’ve been a welcome one, 21-year-old Bassey is yet to make his debut for the country.
Nigeria sit top of African World Cup Qualifying Group C and are in pole position to reach the third round of qualification for the tournament.
The 10 group winners will be pitted against each other in a home and away Playoff with the five winners making the World Cup in Qatar 2022.
Meanwhile, a leading Rangers star has been praised by supporters for his contribution to a telling international success.