A former Vice President of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) Shehu Dikko, has explained the reason behind Stanley Nwabali’s failure to break into the Super Eagles team during the reign of Gernot Rhor.
Nwabali has become a revelation in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast with stellar performances which has helped propel the Super Eagles to the final where they will meet the host country on Sunday.
The Chippa United safe hands claim to the Eagles’ number one has taken many surprise who barely knew him before the AFCON by surprise, but Shehu said he was on the radar of the national team.
“Nwabali has always been on the radar of the National team.. I recall 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 grove.
“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 homebase Super Eagles match with Mexico in the USA.
“Anyway, God’s time is always the best and he has once again proved the talent available in the domestic game,” Dikko wrote on his X handle on Friday.
The former Lobi Stars, Enyimba and Katsina United goalkeeper did not only produce special saves to deny South African players from scoring during Friday’s semi-final game, he saved two spot kicks in the shootout to ensure the Eagles progressed to the final.
The performance earned the 27-year-old Man of the Match price in the semi-final encounter.
Nwabali has conceded just two goals in AFCON so far, one against Equatorial Guinea and the other which was a penalty kick against South Africa.
Millions of Nigerian fans are hoping that he continues with the form when the Eagles face Ivory Coast in the 2024 AFCON final on Sunday.