Chelsea FC defender Keneth Omeruo and Lille Mmetropole goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama believe Nigeria could become the first team from the Confederation of African Football (Caf) region to reach the semi-finals of the Fifa World Cup.
The Super Eagles are preparing for their fifth appearance at the football mundial beginning next month in Brazil.
Only Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana have progressed to the last-eight of the World Cup, with Nigeria’s best performance being two round of 16 appearances at the 1994 and 1998 editions.
However, former Sunshine Stars defender, who featured on loan at Championship side Middlesborough this season, says he is confident of the African champions’ chances at the 20th edition of the world soccer showpiece in Brazil, adding that Nigeria has what it takes to stop favourites Argentina.
“I’m hoping we’ll get to the final,” Omeruo, 20, who was named in Coach Stephen Keshi’s 30-man party for the 2014 World Cup, said. “But I think at least the semi-finals.
“I’m really looking forward to the game against Argentina. We will try as much as possible to keep a clean sheet. It will be difficult but we have to do that.
“They are the best players in the world and we have to show our quality by standing up to them. We will first of all have to make sure we get maximum points from the first two games.”
When asked how he hopes to keep soccer star Lionel Messi out, Omeruo replied he had been conducting some researches on his opponent.
“I watch him a lot on TV. It’s going to be a team effort to try to stop him. Everyone will have to be positive and 100% focused on the game,” he added.
Vincent Enyeama, fresh from becoming the first goalkeeper to bag the Marc-Vivien Foe award for the best African Player in the French Ligue 1, also reiterated the defender’s confidence on the national team.
“I think we are going to make a big progress,” Enyeama, who will be making his third World Cup appearance since making his debut against England in 2002, said.
“We are focused on the World Cup, to make Africa the proudest continent. Ghana almost reached the semi-finals four years ago. We are going to achieve a better result and be the first African team to get to the semi-finals of the World Cup.”
Enyeama kept 21 clean sheets in the French top flight this season, only for an own-goal to stop him from breaking the Ligue 1 record for the most successive clean sheets held by Bordeaux goalkeeper Gaëtan Huard.