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AFCON 2023: Ranking Golden Glove Award Contenders After Stanley Nwabali’s Heroics in Semifinals
- Goalkeeping heroics have largely defined the 2023 AFCON
- Stanley Nwabali and Ronwen Williams stand tall among them
- Here is a ranking of the 'best' shot-stoppers at the tournament
As the 2023 TotalEnergies African Cup of Nations nears its conclusion, four goalkeepers have risen as heroes for their respective nations and are prime contenders for the prestigious Golden Glove Award.
Stanley Nwabali of Nigeria and South Africa's Ronwen Williams have showcased exceptional performances in goal, leading their teams to the latter stages of the tournament.
However, other gallant goalkeepers have also made significant contributions to their teams with quiet efficiency. Sports Brief assesses and ranks the top four shot-stoppers at the soon-to-end 2023 AFCON.
4. Lionel Mpasi
Lionel Mpasi Nzau emerges just shy of the top three among the standout goalkeeping performers of the 2023 AFCON, showcasing his prowess throughout the competition.
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The France-born shot-stopper, who switched allegiance to DR Congo in 2022, has been instrumental in guarding the Leopards' goal throughout their journey to the tournament's semifinals.
His pivotal moment came in the round of 16 clash against Egypt, where he proved decisive in the penalty shootout, securing victory for DR Congo, scoring the winning penalty.
Despite facing the formidable Egyptian side, Mpasi demonstrated composure and skill, denying their scoring attempts with his.
In addition to his heroics in the shootout, the 29-year-old featured prominently in six matches, conceding only five goals and recording one clean sheet, accumulating a total of 570 minutes on the pitch, according to Transfermarkt.
3. Yahia Fofana
Hailing from France like Mpasi, Yahia Fofan has been a standout performer for Ivory Coast in the country's journey to the Grand Finale of the 34th edition of the AFCON.
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Despite his composed demeanour, the 23-year-old goalkeeper transforms into a formidable presence between the posts for Les Elephants, instilling confidence in his defence and rising to the occasion whenever tested.
His goalkeeping heroics were evident in the quarterfinal clash against Mali, where he made a crucial penalty save in the first half. This pivotal moment played a significant role in Ivory Coast's eventual comeback victory over the Eagles.
Although Fofana conceded seven goals prior to the final, his two clean sheets and remarkable saves solidified his position as a key contributor to Ivory Coast's success, earning him a well-deserved place in the top three goalkeepers of the tournament.
2. Ronwen Williams
The Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper has stood tall as a formidable presence in goal for South Africa, propelling them to their first AFCON semifinal appearance in 24 years.
While Williams faced criticism after a disappointing opening match against Mali, he remained resilient and showcased his true quality in the knockout stages.
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In a thrilling encounter against Cape Verde, Williams emerged as a national hero, showcasing his shot-stopping prowess by saving four consecutive penalties in the shootout, securing victory for his team, as cited by CAFOnline.
Although Bafana Bafana fell short of reaching the final, Williams continued to shine in the semifinals, making crucial saves against Nigeria's dynamic attackers.
Despite his heroics earlier in the tournament, Williams struggled in the semifinal shootout, failing to stop any of Nigeria's five penalty attempts.
Nevertheless, his contributions throughout the competition solidified his status as a key figure for South Africa.
1. Stanley Nwabali
A man-mountain of a goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali stands unrivalled in the race for the Golden Glove award as the AFCON draws to a close.
Since taking over the reins from Francis Uzoho as Nigeria's safest pair of hands, the Chippa United shot-stopper has been a formidable presence in goal.
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Following a single goal conceded against Equatorial Guinea in the tournament opener, Nwabali embarked on an impressive streak, keeping clean sheets in four consecutive games.
While his streak was eventually broken by South Africa, Nwabali's heroics between the posts proved instrumental in guiding the Super Eagles to the final.
His crucial saves against Evidence Makgopa, Percy Tau, and Teboho Mokoena during regular and extra time were pivotal.
However, it was his performance in the penalty shootout that solidified his status as the tournament's top goalkeeper, making two crucial saves to dash Bafana Bafana's hopes and propel Nigeria to their eighth AFCON final.
Nwabali's teammates celebrate him after saves
Sports Brief also reported that Stanley Nwabali delivered a stellar performance, earning the Man of the Match title and propelling Nigeria into the Africa Cup of Nations final in Ivory Coast.
Nwabali's crucial saves, including two penalty stops, propelled Nigeria to victory over South Africa, securing their spot in the final on Sunday.
Following the game, the Super Eagles players rushed to celebrate with the goalkeeper, acknowledging his heroic contributions.