Maccabi Tel Aviv goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama has joined his Nigerian national teammates in the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations after a 2-1 win against Ivory Coast. Cruyff: "We wish him all the best"
In South Africa, the African Cup of Nations is now entering its critical phase, and Maccabi Tel Aviv goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama will not be missing a moment of it. With their captain in front of goal, the Nigerian national team yesterday faced off against the formidable squad of Didier Drogba and his Ivory Coast teammates in the quarter finals of the competition, a place they earned by defeating Ethiopia 2-0 in the last round of the group phase.
In search of their first African championship since 2000, the Nigerians went ahead for the first time in the match two minutes shy of half time with a goal from Spartak Moscow striker Emmanuel Emenike. Ivory Coast, who lost last year's final to Zambia, equalised with a header by Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote that found its way past Maccabi's Enyeama. A goal by the Nigerian Sunday Mba on 78 minutes sent Vincent Enyeama and his Nigerian teammates off celebrating their entry into the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations.
In those semi-finals, Nigeria and their Maccabi Tel Aviv skipper will face Mali, who knocked out hosts South Africa in their quarter final match. The match will be held this Wednesday, the 6th of February, with the final to be played on the 10th, a day after the battle for third place. That means that Enyeama will also be missing Maccabi Tel Aviv's next match, the Derby with Hapoel Tel Aviv, played next Monday evening, the 11th of February. MTA's sports director, Jordi Cruyff , had this to say to the official Maccabi Tel Aviv website after the Nigerian victory: "Just like the rest of the players here at Maccabi, we'd like to see Vincent here with us. But watching him reach the semi-finals of the African National Cup with his Nigerian teammates in some way raises a flag of honour for Maccabi Tel Aviv and we're all very proud of that. We all wish him and the Nigerian national team the best of luck and hope he'll return from South Africa with his first trophy of the season."
Enyeama himself spoke of his emotions after the victory: "Tonight I reached the semi-finals and I'm sure that deep in their hearts all Maccabi Tel Aviv fans are wishing me luck. No doubt some of them would rather see me get on the first plane back to Tel Aviv, especially for the Derby next Monday. But the whole team have made fantastic progress of late, especially in the table. I'm very happy for all my Maccabi teammates, but especially for Barak Levi, who's been working so hard with (goalkeeping coach) "Shura" and waiting so patiently for this opportunity. Me missing the Derby? Correct me if I'm wrong, but there are still two more derby matches this season. I'll continue to keep an eye on things at Maccabi as I've done all along from here in South Africa. Wish me luck for the match with Mali on Wednesday in Durban. And one last thing. It was nice to hear about Eran Zahavi coming back home. Go Maccabi!"