Stanley ‘Bobo’ Nwabali has within weeks emerged as the hero across Nigeria after he put an end to the goalkeeping crisis that has bedeviled the Super Eagles since July 2017, when Carl Ikeme was diagnosed with acute Leukemia.
In July 2021, the man-mountain goalkeeper shipped in four goals against Mexico on his Super Eagles debut in a friendly in the USA.
Three years later, he will be in goal for Nigeria in the final of the 2023 AFCON against hosts Cote d’Ivoire.
The 27-year-old Chippa United No 1 has made 14 saves, posted four clean sheets in six matches leading up to the biggest game in African football.
He saved two of South Africa’s kicks in the penalty shootout in the semifinal as well as pulled off game-defining saves against Angola, Cote d’Ivoire and Bafana Bafana in regulation and extra time.
Nwabali ! Nwabali !! Nwabali !!!,” saluted an impressed former Super Eagles coach and captain Sunday Oliseh after the heroics of the giant shot stopper in Bouake Wednesday night against South Africa.
“After Osimhen’s 5-star performance, another hero is born!
“What composure, belief in God and a reassuring smile by our Naija goalkeeper to send us to the AFCON Final.
“Now I can face my FIFA colleagues with a smile .. lol.”
Videos on social media showed jubilant residents of Omoku spontaneously dash down to the family house of Nwabalis moments after his saves lifted the Super Eagles to the final of the AFCON.
He has now been compared to the great Vincent Enyeama, who featured at three World Cups and captained the Super Eagles.
“This is a game I’m born to play,” Nwabali himself said.
“A night to remember!!! I felt every bit of it!!!
“Brick by brick and dreams are coming true.
“No love lost at all. I still love South Africa as much as their fans love me and I love this Super Eagles team with all my heart.”
Nigerians troop to Nwabali’s father’s house in PH to celebrate his son. pic.twitter.com/Oiw9YuxBTa— Mighty Mohammed (@The__Vyrus) February 7, 2024
Seven-time CAF Player of the Year Asisat Oshoala has equally been impressed with the former goalkeeper of Go Round Football of Omoku.
She has had fun on X since what he delivered in Bouake.
First, she jibed that if you have a relationship problem of an emergency issue, Nwabali is the man to call to save you.
Then, ‘Agba Baller’ posted that he was biting the hands that feed him as he denied South Africa, where he is based, passage to the AFCON Final.
She then capped her jokes by posting a POS machine, which displayed current account and instead of a savings account option, it was “Nwabali 1”.
His agent, Mohammed Lawal, told SCORENigeria it has not been all fun and praise for the goalkeeper since he took his football to South Africa two years ago.
“The feedback I got when I wanted to work with him was not great,” revealed the agent, who has brokered the transfer of at least eight NPFL goalkeepers, from Greg Etafia to Daniel Akpeyi, to the South African PSL.
“Many said he was notorious for time-wasting tactics.
“But I fell in love with his imposing physique, ball-playing technique and most importantly, his business-like attitude.”
He continued: “He was raw, like many players from the NPFL, where coaching could be a lot better and more attention ought to be paid to details.
“But he is hungry and committed to succeed.
“He is coming from a very humble beginning and he is focused on changing the lives of all those around him.”
The 2023 AFCON has showcased this big talent to generate serious interests from across the world.
“The Super Eagles and the AFCON are very big platforms and Nwabali has used them to his advantage,” Mohammed Lawal declared.
“But, like he himself will tell you, the journey is long and it is only just beginning for him.”