Super Eagles centre-back, William Troost-Ekong, has said that there a real hunger to keep churning out the clean sheets and provide the best possible platform on which his English Championship side, Watford, to mount an automatic promotion push to the Premier League.
Watford defeated Cardiff City 2-1 yesterday to step up to second on the log on 69 points from 36 games.
The Hornets have racked up 17 Championship clean sheets and boast the best defence in England in terms of goals conceded per game. With 10 games to play, the Hornets’ shut-out record is three shy of the 20 they kept in the 1994/95 season and eight short of the whopping 25 they recorded in the title-winning campaign of 1968/69.
“We’ve created that mentality this year,” said Troost-Ekong. “Every time the ball goes out of play we are reminding ourselves to keep a clean sheet. It’s an uplifting feeling to help the boys and take the pressure off the boys up front. It means we only need to score one to win the game if we defend like that.
“It’s not just the centre-backs, the full-backs and the goalkeeper, though. It’s a team effort. Everyone is doing some leg work for the team, helping to cover the spaces and that means we have one job, which is to defend. We have had some outstanding performances in a real team effort,” the Nigerian international told the club’s website at the weekend.
The Hornets have conceded the fewest goals away from home in the league this season and that record was bolstered by the 2-1 defeat of Cardiff yesterday.
Kieffer Moore has 16 goals this season and scored the winner at Vicarage Road early in December.
“Each striker presents a different challenge,” said Troost-Ekong. “You have to be smart and not try and fight players like that all the time. You have to try and outwit them, make sure you stand your ground and not be pinned. You have to pick and choose your battles. I enjoy these sort of games and battles. We need to show them what we are about.”
Troost-Ekong has partnered Francisco Sierralta for 10 Championship games this season and the team have a winning percentage of 64 per cent when they start together, conceding just five goals in 900 minutes.
“Serra has been fantastic,” said Troost-Ekong. “He has surprised everyone a bit, but I knew him from before at Udinese. He didn’t get much of a chance at the start, but he has worked really hard, trained really well and it’s a perfect example of hard work paying off. I am happy for him and really enjoy playing with him, just like I do with Craig and Kaba,” concludes the super Eagles central back who is expected to marshal that department against Benin Republic when Nigeria take on their West African neighbors on March 27.