After leading the Super Eagles to the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON final, Stanley Nwabali, the hero of the penalty shootout for Nigeria, was quick to redirect personal compliments towards his teammates.
Wednesday night, after a 1-1 draw in Bouake, Nigeria defeated South Africa 4-2 on penalties thanks to two important saves by Nwabali, who also won Man of the Match.
The modest custodian showcased Nigeria’s team spirit despite receiving high marks for his shootout prowess.
“It has been a good team performance throughout this tournament. I really appreciate the management and coaches,” said Nwabali.
The Chippa United goalie gave special recognition to head coach Jose Peseiro. When Peseiro paid him a visit in South Africa before the AFCON, Nwabali was overjoyed and described it as a major source of encouragement.
“When the coach informed me he was coming to visit, for me it was one of the biggest things.
“A coach to come visit was a motivation. When he said he was coming I was really pleased,” Nwabali remarked.
In a competition fit for a fairy tale, Nwabali’s modesty and humility have won over Nigerian supporters.
His heroics with the penalty against South Africa will live on in Nigerian mythology for centuries to come.
For Nwabali, though, the team comes first. Nigeria’s unrelenting attitude could make the difference as they prepare for the final against Cote d’Ivoire or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
This is what Nwabali embodies; she rejects recognition and raises the bar.
“These guys have really guided me a lot throughout this tournament, and I feel so happy,” he said.