Nigeria’s Goalkeeper Boosts Squad Ahead of Super Eagles’ AFCON Quarterfinal Clash with Angola


Nigeria’s national football team, the Super Eagles, received a significant boost with the return of goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali as they gear up to face Angola in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) quarterfinal scheduled for Friday.

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Nwabali rejoined full training on Thursday after being sidelined due to an injury sustained in the round-of-16 clash against Cameroon. However, coach Jose Peseiro remains cautious and awaits a late fitness test before deciding whether to start Nwabali or opt for deputy Francis Uzoho.

Nwabali suffered an injury in the previous match when he collided with Cameroon’s Georges-Kévin N’Koudou and was subsequently stretchered off. The goalkeeper has been recovering from what seemed to be a hamstring strain and has not participated in full training with the squad.

“The doctor will take the final decision,” stated Peseiro. “He will go to take the final test. But if he cannot play, then we will play Francis. I have confidence in him and in [Olorunleke] Ojo also.”

The return of Nwabali is a positive development for the Super Eagles, known for their solid defensive work and rapid transitions into attack. Coach Peseiro emphasized the team’s commitment to maintaining their style of play and consistency against Angola.

“We must keep our way of play, our consistency,” said Peseiro. “Our team so far conceded one goal and scored five. We want to keep this capacity to score, create opportunities, concede less. At the same time, create a good block, work hard, play with organization and not let the opponent score.”

Despite their successful defensive record so far, Nigeria faces an Angola team that has demonstrated an impressive goal-scoring record, netting nine goals and conceding only three to reach the quarterfinals.

Peseiro acknowledged the strengths of the opponent but emphasized the importance of sticking to the team’s established model and characteristics.

“When you evaluate the opponent, you try to check what they do well. But we need to not ignore key points of the opponent, and we can’t change our way just because the opponent scores a lot of goals,” explained Peseiro. “A team with quality like Nigeria must play with our model, our characteristics. I respect the opponent, check their style and the quality of players, but we cannot change our model or plan because of the opponent. We may change the strategy, but we won’t change our way of play.”

With several prominent teams eliminated from the tournament, Nigeria is currently the highest-ranked team remaining and has been elevated to title favorites alongside hosts Ivory Coast. Midfielder Alex Iwobi acknowledged the surprises in the competition and emphasized the team’s focus on their own performances.

“This competition, there has been a lot of surprises,” said Iwobi. “The so-called big teams have gone out. There has been a lot of surprise results. The main thing for us is that we remain focused. We look at our own games, we analyze our own performances, and we want to do what is best for us. We don’t want to look at the outside noise.”

The clash between Nigeria and Angola carries historical significance, with past encounters, including a crucial World Cup qualification match in 2006, adding intensity to the rivalry. While Nigeria has dominated most encounters, Angola has caused upsets in the past, creating an intriguing narrative for the upcoming quarterfinal.

As the Super Eagles prepare for the match, midfielder Iwobi acknowledged the potential challenges posed by Angola but expressed confidence in his team’s ability to withstand pressure and secure a victory.

“We have to give a lot of respect to Angola because to get to this stage of the competition is a big achievement in itself,” said Iwobi. “They have a lot of creative players, but I trust my team. We have been keeping clean sheets and only conceded one goal, so hopefully, that helps us. We are going to need the whole team to defend. We are going to have to fight for the team, fight for the win.

“It’s not going to be easy; they’ve been scoring a lot of goals, but I have confidence in my team that we will be able to withstand any pressure that they put on us.”

Emman Tochi
Emman Tochi
Emma Tochi is Naija247news Media Northern Bureau Chief, he's based in FCT Abuja. He overseas the northern operations of this business media

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