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Following Nigeria’s Group C victory over Ethiopia, the match that saw them through to the quarterfinals, I waxed lyrical about Vincent Enyeama, and the role the goalkeeper has played in the tournament thus far.
I was one of many that doubted Enyeama heading into the tournament—my memories of his brave, bold defensive play in the 2010 World Cup, where he so famously foxed Leo Messi, were beginning to fade into the distant memory. A horrible blunder against Liberia in Monrovia, a spillage that led to Sekou Oliseh scoring for the Lone Stars, could easily have been seen as the death knoll for a career that had lost its verve after a move to Western Europe, and to Lille.
Added pressure was heaped on the stopper by the very able Austin Ejide, who had deputised for Naija’s number one with such poise in some pre-tournament friendlies.
A late injury to Ejide removed any doubt over that particular selection choice though, and it has been Enyeama who has been Nigeria’s custodian for this tournament. He hasn’t disappointed.
A stunning late block against Said Saladin was pulled right from the top drawer, and he will need to be on 2010 form once again for the Super Eagles to stand any chance against Cote d’Ivoire in the next round.