Nigeria goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali reserved all praises for his outstanding shootout performance for the Super Eagles technical crew after his saves helped Nigeria to a 4-2 penalty victory over South Africa.
With the match ending 1-1 at full-time, Nwabali made two saves during the penalties as Nigeria progressed to the Afcon 2023 final. Both teams had earlier converted from the spot for their goals.
What was a fantastic night for Nwabali could have also been a forgettable one, with the goalkeeper initially missing his line, by not following the script given to him by the team's goalkeeper trainers, which had a researched pattern of how South Africa's Teboho Mokoena plays his penalty.
Nwabali dived to the midfielder's right while he put the ball in the left corner for South Africa's 88th-minute equalizer during the game. This annoyed the goalkeeper trainer but they quickly made him follow the script during the shootout.
The data turned out correct after Teboho Mokoena stepped up again, to take South Africa's first kick in the shootout and missed, with Nwabali following the coach's instruction by diving toothed left and saving it to give Nigeria an advantage.
Nwabali also made a second save from Evidence Makgopa in the shootout which ensured Nigeria's 4-2 win the penalty. The goalkeeper thus gave the credit for his penalty saves to the coaches as he picked up the man of the match awards afterward.
"To me, I give credit to my coaches. Because even when it was time for the penalties, they guided me, they told me what to do and I did my best." He revealed.
He also salutes his South African club Chippa United for choosing to give him support ahead of the match against their national team.
"To me, it's a big decision from my club because playing against South Africa, the club is there in South Africa and they wished Nigeria victory because of me. Like it's a big decision and I wish them well and appreciate the message and everything." He stated.
Nwabali has conceded just twice from six games in his debut tournament with the Nigeria National team.