Super Eagles first-choice goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, has high expectations going into his third FIFA World Cup.
Despite Nigeria’s struggles in their last two World Cups, the Lille shot-stopper has told FIFA.com that the African champions will go far in Brazil, after being drawn into Group F against Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Argentina.
“I think we are going to make big progress,” Enyeama 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.”
The former Enyimba goalkeeper first played for the Super Eagles at Korea/Japan 2002 in their final group game against England, after the team had already been eliminated. Enyeama made the No1 jersey his own when Ike Shorounmu retired shortly after that World Cup, becoming first-choice goalkeeper and playing at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations and all others ever since, save the 2008 edition in Ghana when German coach, Berti Vogts preferred the physically bigger Austin Ejide.
Brazil 2014 will be the third time in a row that Nigeria will be facing Argentina at the World Cup, but Enyeama is already looking beyond the first round to a likely match-up with France in the second round.
“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.
“Playing 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.”
Despite keeping 21 clean sheets for Lille last season and coming close to breaking the Ligue 1 record for a goalkeeper without conceding a goal, Enyeama is not carried away by this impressive statistics.
“I don’t care about statistics,” he said.
“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.”
But even if Enyeama is not chasing records, his performances were greatly appreciated this season, as he was awarded the Marc-Vivien Foe prize as France’s Ligue 1 African player of the season.
“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.”