The Nigerian national team, under the guidance of late Stephen Keshi, overcame all odds and opposition to lift the 29th edition of the continental championship
Former Rennes winger Ejike Uzoenyi has taken time to reflect on the most significant achievement of his career – winning the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament with the Super Eagles.
Uzoenyi, then at Enugu Rangers, was one of five home-based players – including club teammate and Afcon hero Sunday Mba – that head coach Stephen Keshi took to South Africa to stun the rest of the continent.
The Super Eagles defeated a Didier Drogba-inspired Ivory Coast, powerhouse Mali, and finalists Burkina Faso to lift Nigeria’s third Afcon trophy and the second on foreign soil.
Uzoenyi’s only appearance at the tournament was as a second-half substitute in the 4-1 demolition of Mali in the semifinals at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
The 34-year-old remains proud of that outing for Nigeria, and he light-heartedly shares the whereabouts of the Afcon gold medal he earned for his troubles.
- “I sold it for $20bn,” Uzoenyi told the Punch with a laugh when asked where his gold medal was.
- “It’s just a joke anyway. Why would someone sell something like that? It’s a precious gift from God.
- “This is what a lot of people crave for; when you have it, no amount of pressure will make me sell such a prized asset. Maybe some people have sold theirs, the decision is best known to them, but I can’t see myself selling mine. It is there and I stare at it every morning.”
Only making his debut in 2012, Uzoenyi has not played for the Super Eagles since after the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
But the flying winger maintains that he looks back at his time with the Super Eagles with happiness because of that historic triumph in South Africa.
“(Winning the 2013 Afcon) was very memorable and joyful. It remains one of the special moments of my career,” the former Mamelodi Sundowns star added.
“Everybody would want to be part of such a feat. Winning the AFCON is something you can never erase in a hurry, so it’s a wonderful thing to be part of that team and to be mentioned among Nigerian players to have won the trophy for the nation.”
Uzoenyi was the tournament’s most valuable player at the 2014 African Nations Championship.