Super Eagles goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama is confident Nigeria will make history in Brazil by being the first African team to reach the World Cup semi-finals.
Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana have all reached the quarter-finals of the tournament but none have made it to the last four despite parading some of the best footballers on the continent.
The Lille goalkeeper, who just won the Marc-Vivien Foe award as the best African player in the French Ligue 1, is hopeful of putting up a better performance as he did at the South Africa 2010 World Cup.
“I think we are going to make big progress,” Enyeama told FIFA.com. “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 31-year-old first played for Nigeria at Korea/Japan 2002, when coach Adegboye Onigbinde gave the then 19-year-old a starting place in their final group game against England, after the team had already been eliminated.
Enyeama’s outstanding display helped the Super Eagles to a goalless draw and was a sign of things to come for the Kaduna-born goalkeeper, who took over the No1 jersey from Ike Shorunmu when the veteran retired shortly after that World Cup. Since then, Enyeama has been an ever-present for the Super Eagles, shining at South Africa 2010 and last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup, and winning the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
It will be the third time in a row that Nigeria will be facing Argentina at the World Cup, but more importantly for Enyeama, 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.
“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.”