Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Troost-Ekong Races Clock: AFCON Defender Faces Fitness Battle

by Hashim
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Super Eagles defender, William Troost-Ekong, is facing a tight race to regain fitness for the remainder of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament after sitting out Nigeria’s final group game against Guinea-Bissau, MySportDab reports.

The 30-year-old, who secured a 1-0 victory for the Eagles over Ivory Coast with a decisive penalty in their second group-stage match, reportedly sustained a hamstring injury during the first half of that game. Since the Ivory Coast match, Troost-Ekong has been unable to train with the rest of the team, undergoing separate sessions at the Police College in Cocody, Abidjan.

While the hope is that Troost-Ekong will recover in time for the Eagles’ last-16 tie, he continues to undergo treatment for his hamstring injury.

Speaking about the current Super Eagles squad, Troost-Ekong expressed confidence, stating, “If I look at the players we have now, it might be the best team I have played in for Nigeria. That is with all due respect to some of the legends that have been there.”

Backing the team’s attacking prowess, he referred to it as the “most exciting attack in Africa” and affirmed his belief in the defensive capabilities of the group, mentioning that they might have been underrated defensively.

Troost-Ekong, known for wearing boots made from bamboo and other sustainable materials at the AFCON, shared his journey to representing Nigeria. Born just outside Amsterdam to a Nigerian father and Dutch mother, he initially dreamed of playing for the Dutch national team. However, a call from Eagles coach Stephen Keshi changed the course of his international career.

Reflecting on the pivotal moment, Troost-Ekong said, “But when I got the phone call from Stephen Keshi at the time, who was a player and a legend who I watched growing up as a kid, especially as a central defender, I was kind of taken aback — and for him to ask me to play for Nigeria, I didn’t have to think twice.”

As Troost-Ekong battles to recover from his injury, the Super Eagles and their fans anxiously await updates on the defender’s availability for the crucial knockout stages of the AFCON tournament.

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