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Remembering Enyeama’s toughest opponents

7:25 AM EDT 3/15/22
Vincent Enyeama of Nigeria, Argentina's Lionel Messi
As The Cat makes our Ghana-Nigeria Combined XI, we remember his duels with some of the game's greats

  • Vincent Enyeama & Didier Drogba

    Didier Drogba

    The duo never faced off in Europe, but there were two meetings between the pair at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2006 and 2013.

    In the semi-final clash in the former tournament, Drogba got the better of the Nigeria stopper as Ivory Coast eliminated the Super Eagles 1-0. The Chelsea man got the only goal too, taking the Elephants to the final where they lost on penalties to hosts Egypt.

    Their second meeting took place seven years later at the showpiece which was held in South Africa. This time, though, the Super Eagles defeated their West African opponents who came into the game as favourites.

    While Drogba didn’t score, he did assist Cheick Tiote’s equalizer, but Enyeama had the last laugh with Nigeria winning 2-1.

    Stephen Keshi’s men went on to win the title, their third success at the showpiece.

  • Vincent Enyeama and Lionel Messi, Nigeria vs Argentina, 2010 World Cup

    Lionel Messi

    Enyeama thwarted Messi on multiple occasions at the 2010 World Cup will be replayed as a goalkeeping clinic for years to come.

    Nigeria’s number one denied the Argentine maestro on no less than four occasions, which spared the West African nation’s blushes as the final score could have been higher than 1-0.

    However, the legendary Barcelona star had the upper hand in 2014, when he netted twice as the Albiceleste defeated the three-time African champions 3-2.

  • Samuel Eto'o, Cameroon

    Samuel Eto’o

    The high-profile meeting between Eto’o and Enyeama was at the quarter-final of Afcon 2004, where the Super Eagles sought revenge for their final defeat in 2000 on home soil.

    The Indomitable Lions went ahead, though, in the first-half through their superstar forward, who opened his account for the competition with a left-footed effort that left the stopper with little chance.

    Goals from Jay-Jay Okocha and John Utaka saw Nigeria progress to the last four at the expense of the Central African nation.

  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic | PSG

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic

    Sweden’s veteran striker and the Nigeria keeper went head-to-head several times in Ligue 1, with Paris Saint-Germain winning most of the encounters.

    However, the Swede tended to miss most of the league fixtures between the teams from 2013/14 to 2015/16, featuring in only two of a possible six top flight encounters.

    He scored once, a 2-2 draw at Parc des Princes in December 2013, but fired blanks in the reverse fixture at Stade Pierre Mauroy, although PSG won 3-1.

    Enyeama’s Lille faced off with Ibra in the Coupe de la Ligue twice in 2015 and 2016, with the Parisians winning 1-0 and 2-1 respectively.

    The 2013 Afcon winner didn’t let the prolific frontman past him, although it counted for little as Les Dogues exited regardless.

  • Ronaldinho Brazil 2002 World Cup


    The legendary Brazil playmaker faced off with Enyeama once in 2003, when Nigeria hosted Brazil in a friendly at Abuja Stadium (now the Moshood Abiola National Stadium) in the Super Eagles’ first match at the newly commissioned ground in 2003.

    While the gifted attacker neither scored nor assisted, his overall performance was eye-catching as the world champions won 3-0.

    It wasn’t the best of outings for the ex-Enyimba goalie, who was exposed time and again as the South Americans showed their superiority.