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Stanley Nwabali Cautioned Over Returning to South Africa Amid Chippa United Animosity
- Stanley Nwabali has been caught in the crossfire of a row caused by Chippa United's owner
- A Nigerian official has warned the goalkeeper that South Africans could have hostile intentions
- Siviwe 'Chippa' Mpengesi angered South African fans by publicly stating support for Nigeria
Football rivalries have been fiercely displayed during AFCON 2023.
The colliding of national pride and the passions harnessed by the beautiful game is a recipe for tense exchanges.
Club allegiances are generally set aside but the unsolicited interjection of one South African club owner has muddied the water of respect and dignified competition.
Chipp United's exuberant owner, Siviwe Mpengesi, released an inflammatory statement that day before Bafana Bafana's already heated semi-final with the Super Eagles, declaring his backing for the West African nation.
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In the wake of Nigeria's defeat to Ivory Coast in the final, former Nigerian Football Association Vice President, Mazi Uchegbulam said Nwabali should be wary of going back to his employers. SoccerLaduma quoted him as saying:
"Some would say it is just football, but the signals I am getting from South Africa about Nwabali [are] not so positive. He should not go back to Chippa United after the AFCON. That is my honest advice and I hope he takes it."
However, South Africans have reportedly not directed any vitriol toward Nigeria's number one, instead aiming their anger at the Chippa United boss.
Among calls for relegation and an ostracising of the club, South African fans have found a team they will all collectively cheer against. Themba Tshabalala summed up the sentiment on X, posting:
AFCON 2023: Stanley Nwabali shows off his Onana jersey on social media after swapping shirts with Cameroon goalkeeperFootball
"Seeing that it was democratic for Siviwe Mpengesi to openly declare his support for Nigeria against Bafana Bafana, let me also return the favour and ask, 'Will it be wrong for me to openly support all the teams that will play against Chippa United?"
Reactions to Mpengesi's Nigeria support
Sports Brief has also recently reported on the reactions to 'Chippa' Mpengesi's support of Nigeria.
The Chippa United boss stirred controversy with a statement that many considered to be unpatriotic.
Many supporters have asked that the owner be dealt with harshly and that his club also be defeated.