Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama to reach 100 caps: ‘Nothing matches being recognised by your country’

Nigeria Super Eagles goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama will earn his 100th appearance for country on Thursday in a friendly against Uganda in his hometown of Uyo.

Nigeria's Vincent Enyeama, left, celebrates with Ogenyi Onazi after a win over Bosnia at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Eric Gaillard / Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama will swell an exclusive group of African footballers to 24 on Thursday by making his 100th international appearance.

Recently retired Egypt midfielder Ahmed Hassan is the most capped African with a world-record 184 appearances and 22 other footballers from the continent have at least 100 caps.

The Super Eagles are at home to Uganda Thursday and away to South Africa Sunday as part of a 28-match, seven-day friendly schedule involving African countries.

While preparing for the June kick-off of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers will be uppermost in the minds of most coaches and footballers, personal glory beckons for Enyeama.

The 32-year-old who plays for French Ligue 1 outfit Lille has represented his country 99 times since a 2002 debut against Kenya.


And there is no venue where the best current African shot-stopper would prefer to reach 100 caps than the Akwa Ibom Stadium in his southern home city of Uyo.

“I am excited by the fact that reaching 100 caps will happen in my home town,” said Enyeama. “What a great honour.

“Nothing matches being recognised by your country. I am very excited at the prospect of reaching 100 caps.”

Enyeama was part of the 2013 Cup of Nations-winning team and has also collected three bronze medals in the biennial African showpiece.

But he selects a 2010 World Cup group game against Argentina in Johannesburg as his most memorable international.

“We lost 1-0, but I was inspired and won the man-of-the-match award.

“Lionel Messi did not score and that was some sort of joy for me,” said the star who played in Nigeria and Israel before joining Lille.

Former Super Eagles centre-back Joseph Yobo, who quit international football after the 2014 World Cup having reached 100 caps, is a huge fan of Enyeama.

“Vincent can match any goalkeeper in the world on his day. He can make unbelievable saves.”

Star Senegal striker Demba Ba is poised to return from the international wilderness when his side meet Ghana in French city Le Havre.

The former Newcastle United and Chelsea goal-poacher fell out of favour with coach Alain Giresse and was excluded from the 2015 Cup of Nations squad.

But new Senegal coach Aliou Cisse added Ba to a strike force that includes England-based Mame Biram Diouf, Sadio Mane and Dame N’Doye.

Ivory Coast coach Herve Renard picked all 23 of the 2015 Cup of Nations-winning squad for Abidjan friendlies against Angola and Equatorial Guinea, even though several have retired.

Goalkeeper Boubacar Barry, who scored the title-clinching penalty in the final shootout against Ghana, and Liverpool centre-back Kolo Toure hung up their international boots after the triumph last month.

New Egypt coach Argentine Hector Cuper packed his squad with stars from Cairo giants Al Ahly and Zamalek for a Cairo clash with the Equatoguineans.

Among the Ahly contingent is 32-year-old striker Emad Meteb, whose predatory instincts yielded two goals in a recent African Champions League match.

African top-10 ranked nations Tunisia and Cameroon have chosen Asia for two-match tours.

The Tunisians play Japan and China while the Cameroonians tackle Indonesia and Thailand.

Gabon are another team who will clock up air miles, facing Mali in France before travelling south to Turkey for a match against Belarus.

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE