Former Vice President, Nigeria Football Federation, Shehu Dikko, has given insight into why new Super Eagles first choice goalkeeper and fans favourite, Stanley Nwabali, didn’t feature for the team under former coach Gernot Rohr, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
Nwabali has established himself as the country’s undisputed first-choice goalkeeper with his impressive performances at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.
While Nwabali’s rise to stardom has come as a big surprise to many Nigerians, Dikko said the keeper had always been under the watchful eyes of the federation.
“Nwabali has always been on the radar of the national team,” he tweeted.
“I recalled in June 2019 during the NPFL Super Six in Lagos and he was on the books of Enyimba FC, we invited Gernot Rohr to watch him as a potential successor/competitor to Uzoho. Unfortunately, his club GM went to inform him that Rohr was around to check on him, thinking he was helping him. But that made him so jittery being a young keeper just getting into the groove but he has always been a very good keeper as he even made the NPFL Allstar team in 2022 for the Budweiser match with John Terry and Roberto Carlos and the home-based Super Eagles match with Mexico in USA.
“Anyway, God’s time is always the best and he has once again proved the talent available in the domestic game.”
On Wednesday, the 27-year-old saved two penalty kicks from Teboho Mokoena and Evidence Makgopa to help Nigeria claim a 4-2 win over South Africa and progress to the final of the 34th edition of the AFCON.
The Chippa United shot-stopper, who is a strong contender for keeper of the tournament, was named Man of The Match for his impressive display.
Surprisingly, Nwabali has only six appearances for the Eagles and was only invited to the national team a few weeks before the AFCON after Nigeria’s head coach, Jose Peseiro, decided to make him his preferred choice ahead of Francis Uzoho, who has failed to live up to expectations.
In his competitive games so far, he conceded just two goals against Equatorial Guinea and South Africa.
Nwabali will hope to continue with his impressive form when Nigeria take on Ivory Coast in the final of the AFCON on Sunday.