Stanley Nwabali may deflect the praise, but his heroics in the Super Eagles’ penalty shootout victory over South Africa in the AFCON 2023 semi-final clash cannot be understated.
The Chippa United shot-stopper was the undisputed Man of the Match; his saves propelled the Super Eagles into the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final, Footballrover reported.
However, here are three key facts that highlight Nwabali’s remarkable performance:
A Wall Between the Posts:
Throughout the tournament, Nwabali has been a rock in goal, conceding just two goals in six games.Nwabali has been a rock in goal, conceding just two goals in six games.
His agility and command of the area have instilled confidence in the Nigerian defence, and his penalty-saving prowess proved invaluable against South Africa.
Ice in His Veins:
The pressure was immense during the penalty shootout, but the 27-year-old goalie remained unfazed.
With nerves of steel, he denied South African two attempts, effectively handing Nigeria the victory.
His calmness under pressure shows his mental fortitude and growing experience, which he attributed to his role model, Manuel Neuer.
The Nigerian goalkeeper revealed his pre-game ritual for motivation, stating that he often watched videos of the Bundesliga legend.
“Even two days before the game, even in the dressing room, I always watch him,” Nwabali revealed.
From Striker to Savior:
Not many know this, but Nwabali’s journey to goalkeeping glory was unconventional.
He played as a striker until the age of 22 before switching positions in 2019.
This unique perspective might explain his attacking instincts on the field, evident in his proactive approach to claiming crosses and commanding his area.
His rise from an unknown in Nigerian League to a national hero has left the country buzzing with excitement after the semi-final game.
As the Green and White Eagles gear up for the final, one thing is certain: all eyes will be on Nwabali yet again, hoping he can continue his magic and bring the trophy home.