AFCON 2023: Nigeria’s Stanley Nwabali reveals key secret to saving penalties in the Super Eagles win over South Africa

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Super Eagles and Chippa United goalkeeper, Stanley Bobo Nwabali, has revealed the key element that led to him saving two spot-kicks in Nigeria’s victory over South Africa in the semi-final of the AFCON 2023 tournament, reports.

The 27-year-old was rock solid in his first tournament for the three-time AFCON Champions, keeping four clean sheets as Nigeria remained undefeated until the final whistle.

The Super Eagles were drawn against South Africa in the tournament’s semi-final, with all the goals in the game coming from the penalty spot.

William Troost-Ekong broke the deadlock for Nigeria from the spot before Teboho Mokoena levelled the scores for South Africa from twelve yards, and with no goals in extra time, the fate of both teams was decided by a penalty shoot-out.

Mokoena couldn’t convert at the second time of asking as Nwabali parried his and Evidence Makgopa’s penalties to send Nigeria through to the final, and the Chippa United revealed his antics.

“People didn’t know me. Only a few teams in South Africa knew that when you go to penalty shootouts against Stanley, it’s gone, you’re finished, just forget about the game. You must give me the man of the match because I will save a lot. The Bafana Bafana players looked scared. If you watched the game and you look at their eyes when taking a penalty against me, they looked scared,” the 1.96m tall goalkeeper said in an interview with Far Post.

Nwabali iterated that South Africa should have gone on to win the game within normal time when they had the chance, as the odds were against them in the shoot-outs, despite Ronwen Hayden Williams saving four spot kicks against Cape Verde.

“When you’re not confident enough to stand, I know you’ll fumble in the penalty. I was not surprised by Mokoena’s miss, and I was not surprised by Makgopa’s miss. So, these teams like Polokwane, Sekhukhune, Stellenbosch, they know that if you go to penalties with me, it’s finished. I’m not praising myself, I always want to keep quiet because I know what I can do,” Nwabali added.

Nigeria will be up against South Africa in June as both sides lock horns in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying game.