Stanley Nwabali; the Vincent Enyeama’s worthy successor?

Stanley Nwabali after he secures cleansheet against Cameroon at AFCON 2023
It seems Jose Peseiro has managed to solve Nigeria's goalkeeping problems by unearthing Stanley Nwabali.

Chippa United and Nigeria first-choice goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali has continued to receive praise from the nation’s football lovers.

The 27-year-old put in another outstanding performance in Nigeria’s 1-0 win over the Palancas Negras of Angola to book a place in the semi-finals of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Nigeria could have started the game on the back foot but for a smart save that Nwabali made at his near post to deny Mabululu from putting Angola in front.

Since joining Chippa United in October 2022, Stanley Nwabali has worked his way to the number one spot, keeping 7 clean sheets in 15 appearance in the 23/24 PSL season.

Stanley Nwabali and Victor Osimhen |Photo Credit: Imago

Stanley Nwabali impresses after returning from injury

Before the game against Angola, there were concerns regarding Stanley Nwabali’s fitness, after he suffered a knock in the R16 tie against Cameroon. However, the former Katsina United shot-stopper recovered in time to face the Palancas Negras.

His assured performance in goal and how he commanded the well-marshaled Super Eagles backline led by Troost-Ekong has been commendable.

Nwabali has only picked the ball out of his net once the entire tournament – in the first game against Equatorial Guinea when Salvador breached the Nigerian defence to put his team in front.

Former Super Eagles number one and arguably Nigeria’s best goalkeeper in the last two decades Vincent Enyeama burst into the scenes at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan.

Coach Onigbinde handed Enyeama his debut in Nigeria’s last game against the Three Lions of England, where he produced one of the saves of the tournament to deny Manchester United legend Paul Scholes.

Since then, Enyeama’s career was on an upward trajectory. He moved to Lille, where he won several awards including the best goalkeeper in the league.


Vincent Enyeama at the 2014 World Cup

Vincent Enyeama boasts an impressive 48 clean sheets in 96 games for the Super Eagles of Nigeria, conceding just 70 goals in the process.

The ex-Enyimba skipper’s record (including scoring 13 career goals as a goalkeeper) ranks him as one of Nigeria’s greatest-ever shot-stopper.

However, like Enyeama, Stanley Nwabali’s first appearance for Nigeria came against Equatorial Guinea at this year’s AFCON and his assured performances behind the sticks has earned him all the plaudits he’s getting.

Stanley Nwabali after he secures cleansheet against Cameroon at AFCON 2023

It is expected that after this AFCON, Stanley Nwabali will land a big move to a club side in Europe, with a team like Union-Saint-Gilloise already jostling for his signature.

Nwabali came in at a time when Nigeria had a goalkeeping crisis, after Francis Uzoho failed to convince.

If Nwabali keeps producing the sorts of performances we have seen from him in this tournament, he might just go on to have a glittering career like Super Eagles legend Vincent Enyeama.

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