Tel Aviv Goalie Shines on World Stage
Nigeria’s Enyeama earns plaudits from Maradona, Messi
Okay, first things first: The United States—Tablet Magazine’s official World Cup Finals soccer team—was just cheated out of a win over Slovenia by an idiot ref. This isn’t whininess or being a homer; any number of neutral-minded soccer observers are going to say the same thing in the coming hours and days. It’s just a fact. Video here. Final result: 2-2. Grrr.
Second: As I predicted, Jewish hunk Benny Feilhaber did indeed play midfielder for the Americans, going in for the entirety of the second half. (Fat lotta good that did us! Sorry, sorry.)
Third: There is another exciting player and team for Tablet Magazine readers, and that is Nigeria. Why? Because that side’s exceptional goalie, Vincent Enyeama, plays club soccer for Hapoel Tel Aviv. After Nigeria’s 1-0 loss to Argentina, Argentine striker Lionel Messi, generally agreed to be the world’s best player, had high, high praise for Enyeama, calling him “exceptional”. Added Argentine manager Diego Maradona, arguably the greatest soccer player in history, “He was the one who made us suffer, because in football if you create chances and fail to convert then you can be punished.” (By “football,” that silly Argentine clearly means soccer.)
(By the way, four years ago, during the previous World Cup Finals, there was a Forward article—a particularly well-written one, at that—about a Ghanaian player who also played for Hapoel Tel Aviv and who, after scoring a goal against the Czech Republic, yanked an Israeli flag out of his shorts and waved it about, earning the ire of much of the Arab world.)
Now, the bad news: Yesterday, Nigeria somewhat surprisingly lost 2-1 to Greece. Their final game is next Tuesday against South Korea. I’m not positive about this, but I believe they still have the opportunity to advance: If they defeat South Korea by a significant margin, and if Argentina defeats Greece (as is indeed likely), then South Korea, Greece, and Nigeria would all be 1-2-0, and the tiebreaker would go to goal differential, in which case Nigeria would stand a very decent chance at advancing to the elimination round as Group B’s second seed. Got that? So stay tuned!