21st May, 2014
As the kick off day of 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil draws nearer, Super Eagles of Nigeria first choice goalkeeper and skipper of the team, Vincent Enyeama believes the Eagles have what it takes to progress beyond the second round and even go as far as reaching the semi-final.
Nigeria are drawn in Group F alongside: Argentina, Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina and Enyeama strongly believes there is no team that is capable of denying the Eagles a semi-final berth at the Mundial.
The Lille of France goalkeeper, who was named among the Ligue 1 team of the season, said in an interview published Wednesday morning on the official website of the Federation of International Football Association, FIFA, that the players of the Eagles are good to take on any team in the world.
The former Enyimba of Aba goalkeeper, who is still fresh off winning the Marc-Vivien Foe award given to the best African player in France’s Ligue 1 said. “We are focused on the World Cup, to make Africa the proudest continent. Ghana almost reached the semi-finals four years ago. We are going to achieve a better result and be the first African team to get to the semi-finals of the World Cup.”
It will be the third time in a row that Nigeria will be facing Argentina at the World Cup, but more importantly for Enyeama, who made his World Cup debut at the age of 19 at the Korea/Japan 2002, believes a match-up with France in the second round could be on the cards: “If we play against France, it will be interesting, but if we play against Switzerland, it will also be interesting. The important thing is to qualify. Laying France for a place in the last eight is not really what matters to me right now, I just want the team to make it to the second round. But maybe we will come out first, and then we will not have to play against France.”
But even if the former Maccabi Tel Aviv of Israel is not chasing records, his performances were greatly appreciated this season, as the awarding of the Marc-Vivien Foe award shows. “This is a great trophy, I’m really happy,” he said. “It is inspiring because it bears the name of a great player – Marc-Vivien Foe – who worked so hard to succeed and save his team and his country. I think this award will give me more confidence for the World Cup,” he added.
Enyeama has enjoyed a highly successful season with Lille, helping the club to third in the league, keeping 21 clean sheets in the process and coming close to breaking the Ligue 1 record for a goalkeeper without conceding a goal. However, those statistics are far from the most important thing to him.
He said: ”I don’t care about statistics. I just want to see how far I can go and help my team. When I am no longer effective, then I leave the scene. I also do not care to be the most-capped player in the history of the Super Eagles – things like that.”
He joined Ligue 1 club Lille in 2011, but failed to break into the first side and returned to Israel in 2012, where he joined Maccabi Tel Aviv on loan, winning the championship with them. He returned to Lille a year later and was made first choice goalkeeper by coach Rene Girard and has not looked back since.
“I always wanted to be a first-choice goalie anywhere I played. I always wanted to be the person who puts the smile on people’s face. At first it was not the case here, but it changed. I don’t work for trophies. I work to improve my game, to help my team. Trophies are just the icing on the cake.”