Nigerians had doubts prior to the commencement of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote D’Ivoire, most stakeholders wrote the team off and expressed pessimism about Its chances.
One of the talking points was the goalkeeping department which obviously lacked a dependable figure who can earn the trust and confidence of Nigerian football Stakeholders.
Before the 2023 AFCON, Nigerians had complained bitterly about the jittery Francis Uzoho who many believe is the reason why the Super Eagles failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Uzoho conceded a goal from a long distance against Ghana in a 1-1 draw in the World Cup qualifying playoffs in Abuja, he would also go ahead to put up unconvincing show in some friendly matches.
Maduka Okoye who was the first choice goalkeeper at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon isn’t any better in terms of performance, he was in goal when Tunisia bundled out the Super Eagles in the round of 16 of the last AFCON.
Again, Nigerians claim a better goalkeeper would have done better considering the manner at which the goal was scored.
Fast forward to 2024, Stanley Nwabali only became the team’s first choice at the AFCON, coach Jose Peseiro visited him at his base in South Africa few weeks before the provisional list was released.
He made the final list of three that also has Francis Uzoho and Ojo Olorunleke, but started turning heads with his performance in the group stage.
He earned even more respect with his performance against Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions in the round of 16.
Although a few Nigerians are unbelievably saying he is yet to be tested despite making big saves and conceding just one goal at the moment, but majority of Nigerians are okay with his confidence.
Many are of the believe that you don’t have to play many games before you show quality.
His injury against Cameroon sent shivers down the spine of football enthusiasts back in Nigeria, but his return to training has given the people some sort of courage that he will be part of Friday’s quarter final against Angola’s Palancras Negras.
If he isn’t fit enough to play tomorrow, the internet will see why Nwabali is the new bride in the Nigerian football fraternity