Bursaspor of Turkey defender, William Troost-Ekong is looking ahead to this Saturday’s international friendly with glee, but admits his additional anticipation from the game is the possibility of clashing with his former teammate at Tottenham Hotspur, Harry Kane.
Troost-Ekong and Kane were pals during the Nigerian defender’s youth days at Spurs, but for Saturday’s match at Wembley Stadium, London, they will be on opposing sides, and the Super Eagles stopper says it would be exciting to try and stop England’s new captain from scoring.
On arrival in Port Harcourt, a pair of lucky fans got to meet and greet Troost-Ekong, while sharing a Coke with a number of Eagles players, during a quick Coca-Cola ball signing session.
Other players at the signing were Eagles captain, John Mikel Obi, Eddy Ogenyi Onazi, Leon Aderemi Balogun, Ola Aina, Oghenekaro Etebo, Tyronne Ebuehi, Joel Chukwuma Obi, Odion Jude Ighalo and Junior Lokosa.
Troost-Ekong is now looking beyond Saturday’s game, all the way to the World Cup, and says the Eagles can pull off an upset at Russia 2018 next month.
The Eagles, who will be making their sixth-time appearance at the football showpiece in the Eurasian nation, face two-time world champions Argentina, 18th best team in the world Croatia and one of 2018 World Cup dark horses Iceland in Group D.
Though Troost-Ekong admits Nigeria face a huge task in the hunt for a place the second round from the group, he believes the Eagles can make it through.
He is expecting the Eagles to enact a repeat of Senegal’s feat at the Korea/Japan 2002, when they battled through in a group which included defending champions France, as well as Denmark and South American giants, Uruguay to reach the second round.
The Teranga Lions then beat one of Nigeria’s group conquerors, Sweden 2-1 to become the first African team to reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
Ahead of Russia 2018, Dutch-born Troost-Ekong is bullish about Nigeria’s chances and says the Eagles would make a bold statement in June/July.
On the June 2 build-up friendly against England at Wembley, Troost-Ekong expressed his delight at the opportunity to face his former Spurs teammate, Kane.
He said: “It’ll be nice to play against Harry again after all these years, so it will be exciting. It will be a bit of a homecoming for me seeing as I spent some time in England.
“I have such strong ties in England. Quite a lot of the team play in England and so many Nigerians live in England, so it will be a nice atmosphere.
“I think we can surprise like we did in qualifying, as we were not the favourites to go through, with Cameroon and Algeria there.
“We have a new coach and a lot of young players coming through, so I think at the World Cup we can do the same. ”