Following Nigeria’s careless 2-2 draw against Liberia in last Saturday’s 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualification match, goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama’s continued role in the team has come under scrutiny.
The veteran was responsible for allowing the hosts back into the game after the Super Eagles had taken the lead in front of a packed home crowd at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium in Monrovia.
Nigeria seemed to have confounded the Lone Stars cheered on by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf – who had promised a $150,000 win bonus.
Sekou Oliseh’s cunning was enough to punish the Super Eagles for Enyeama’s frailty and earn Liberia a deserved draw as the game ran to a close.
The result of this game has called into question, more than ever, the continued relevance of Enyeama, who was voted Nigeria’s best player at the 2010 World Cup. The goalkeeper is famous for having shut out Argentina’s magic man Lionel Messi in the opening game of that tournament.
With his incredible performance at the Mundial, Enyeama’s heroic status was secured in the minds of Nigerians as he also became a prospect for a big move to mainland Europe from Israeli side Hapoel Tel Aviv.
That move would not come until a year later when he finally secured a contract with French giants Lille.
However, the Nigerian hero was not so fortunate in Northern France as he had to play second fiddle to Mickael Landreau. The 30 year-old could only make rare starts in the Champions League during Landreau’s injury. This forced him to return to Israel on a loan move to Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Many have said that perhaps this season spent mostly on the bench has made Enyeama match rusty. The goalkeeper has proven his critics wrong on many occasions by giving brilliant performances in the colours of the national team.
It is important to note that it was in his absence – after a very well publicised spat with former Nigeria coach Samson Siasia – that the Eagles failed to qualify for the 2012 Afcon in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. It was the longest period that he had spent away from the national team since he became number one in 2002.
However, his relevance has been called into question with his consecutive away game crack (his blunder in the encounter against Malawi in June also allowed the Flames nick an equaliser).
Should Enyeama continue in goal for Nigeria or should Stephen Keshi and his technical team find other options? We put this question to our readers who voted with gust.
56.4 per cent of readers voted for the goalkeeper to continue in his position as number one while 39.72 per cent voted against him. 5.68 per cent of readers were indifferent.
The conversation on Twitter was also very spirited. While @sopsygudbadtboi said that “Enyeama is hiding behind old glory! His days are gone finally! He's so arrogant & that was why he had problem with Siasia!,” other voices like @matenyi were calmer: “Vincent Enyeama is our number one, everyone [can] learn from their mistake so let's keep the FAITH.”
Reader @demoadefa was more insightful: “Enyeama is match rusty. He remains the best among the lot. Other keepers lack experience. Keshi should make it competitive.”
Even though there were reports of inflamed passion in the Eagles’ camp after the game in Monrovia, Keshi has claimed that he has no problems with his goalkeeper and that Enyeama will remain his first choice.
Keshi knows best.
Whatever be the result of his hope and that of the majority of our readers, it is expected that Enyeama sits up to give his best in order to get Nigeria that Afcon ticket next year.
Otherwise, it would have been a disastrous decision to let him continue.