Super Eagles coach Jose Peseiro is anxiously awaiting the results of a scan to determine the availability of goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali for Nigeria's crucial game against Angola in the ongoing 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. Nwabali, who surprisingly made the squad just weeks before the start of the competition, has become a pivotal figure in the team, taking over the number one role from Francis Uzoho.
With Nwabali guarding the net, the Super Eagles have shown defensive resilience, conceding only one goal throughout the tournament, and he has not made any notable errors on the field. However, in the quarter-finals against Cameroon, Nwabali suffered a knock after a collision with Christopher Wooh while attempting to claim a ball. Despite receiving treatment from the team physios, he was forced to leave the game in the 80th minute.
Fortunately, post-game assessments from the medical team suggested that Nwabali's injury was not serious. Yet, there remains uncertainty about his fitness for the upcoming quarter-final clash against Angola. The coaching staff, led by Peseiro, is taking a cautious approach and will make a final decision after conducting a late test to assess Nwabali's condition.
Peseiro expressed confidence in the backup goalkeepers, Francis Uzoho and Olurunleke Ojo, should Nwabali be unavailable for the Angola match. While Uzoho was the initial first-choice goalkeeper for Nigeria before the AFCON, there have been concerns among Nigerian fans about his inconsistent performances. However, Peseiro believes in the abilities of Uzoho and Ojo to step up if called upon.
The uncertainty surrounding Nwabali's availability adds an element of tension and strategic planning for the coaching staff as they prepare for a crucial knockout stage match. The Super Eagles will weigh the risk of fielding Nwabali against the potential of relying on experienced alternatives. The final decision will likely be influenced by the late test results and the coaching staff's assessment of the overall team dynamics. Nigerian fans eagerly await the outcome, hoping for a healthy and fit squad as they aim for success in the ongoing AFCON tournament.