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Stanley Nwabali: When Nigeria No.1 Goalkeeper Named the Only Person He Fears As AFCON Final Beckons
- Super Eagles goalie Stanley Nwabali once opened up on his greatest fear in life
- Nwabili earned his first cap for the Nigerian national team in 2021
- He has played six matches so far at the AFCON and conceded just two goals
Stanley Nwabali has emerged as Nigeria's most reliable goalkeeper as they advance towards the final of the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations.
In recent weeks, Nwabali's journey has been nothing short of remarkable, transitioning from relative obscurity to becoming the country's safest pair of hands at the soon-to-end AFCON.
The 27-year-old caught the attention of Super Eagles manager Jose Peseiro last year and was subsequently included in the Portuguese coach’s provisional squad for the biennial competition.
Despite Nigeria's initial setback in a pre-tournament friendly against Guinea on January 8, where they suffered a 2-0 loss, Nwabali was entrusted with a starting role, per AfrikFoot.
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Since gaining Peseiro's trust and ousting Francis Uzoho as the No.1 goalkeeper for the Super Eagles, Nwabali's displays have consistently improved, cementing his role and bolstering his prospects of clinching the AFCON's Best Goalkeeper award.
How has Nwabali performed at the AFCON?
His superlative performances have endeared him to Nigerians, who firmly believe that the South Africa-based goalkeeper will lead them to their fourth AFCON title.
The Chippa United shot-stopper made his AFCON debut against Equatorial Guinea as the Super Eagles had a shaky start to their campaign in Ivory Coast, resulting in a disappointing 1-1 draw for the West African giants.
However, this setback sparked a remarkable run for Nwabali and his Nigerian teammates, who kept clean sheets in four consecutive games, as cited by FARPost.
Despite conceding in the semifinals against South Africa, Nwabali's stellar performance earned him the man-of-the-match award, making two crucial saves in the post-match penalty shootout.
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His heroics ensured that Kelechi Iheanacho's penalty was sufficient to secure Nigeria a spot in the final for the first time since 2013.
Nwabali reveals his greatest fear
As he prepares for the final, the imposing goalkeeper is anticipated to deliver a performance akin to his stellar showing in the semi-final against AFCON hosts Ivory Coast on Sunday, setting the stage for an electrifying Grand Finale.
Known for his fearless, commanding presence and vocal leadership on the field, the goalie has revealed the sole individual he fears.
On June 29, 2023, Stanley shared a post on social media where he expressed that he fears no opponent except God, underscoring his profound spirituality and respect for the Divine.
Nwabali misses Nigeria training ahead of final
Nigeria has resumed training in preparation for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final against Ivory Coast following their victory over South Africa in the semi-final on Wednesday.
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Jose Peseiro's squad returned to training, but notably absent from today's session was Nwabali, as reported by Sports Brief.
Information from our insider within the Super Eagles camp confirms that the Chippa United goalkeeper was taking a rest, which explains his absence from the training session.