By Monsurah Olatunji
The Confederation of African Football has picked Nigeria goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali’s excellent stop against Cote d’Ivoire as the Save of the Day on Thursday.
With three matches played on the day and six goalkeepers in action making a combined 13 saves, the Nigerian safe hands were called upon three times to prevent the ball from finding his net.
The Chippa United goalie debuted for Nigeria in the 2-0 friendly loss to Guinea on the eve of the tournament.
Nwabali was in goal for Nigeria’s opening match at the AFCON – a 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea – before he kept his first-ever clean sheet for the Super Eagles in the Cote d’Ivoire clash.
One of his saves against hosts in their second group match was early in the encounter when a poorly executed Zaidu Sanusi’s header allowed Christian Kouame to smash a left-footed effort on goal.
However, the 26-year-old made himself big enough for his ribs to divert the ball out for a corner, a decisive moment that could have seen the three-time champions go behind just ten minutes into the game.
Nwabali’s excellent stop has now been selected by CAF as the best save of the day, ahead of all his contemporaries.
In context, Equatorial Guinea’s Jesús Owono made three stops, one more than Guinea-Bissau’s Ouparine Djoco, while, Egypt’s Mohamed El Shenawy and Ghana’s Richard Ofori made two and three saves, respectively, but none kept a clean sheet.