By Wale Mustapha
Nigeria may likely take on the Palancas Negras of Angola in the first quarterfinal of 2023 African Cup of Nations, AFCON tournament on Friday without their first choice goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali due to injury.
The Chippa United’s shot stopper is racing against time to be fit for the winner takes all clash after suffering a thigh injury in second round victory over Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.
He’s being assessed to confirm if he will be available for the clash against the Black Antelopes billed for Felix Houphet Boigney Stadium in Abidjan.
Jose Peseiro told news conference ahead of the match on Thursday that he’s not perturbed about the availability of former Enyimba keeper as he has enormous confidence in other goalkeepers in the team.
While Nigerians are still waiting to see if Nwabali will be fit for the encounter at Ebimpe, Nigeriafootball.ng run the rule on who is likely to replace Nwabali between Francis Uzoho and Olorunleke Ojo.
Going by national team experience, one will expect Peseiro to go for Uzoho as perfect replacement for Nwabali.
However, Uzoho’s recent performances heading to AFCON leave many to ponder.
The Omonia goalkeeper has been struggling with form and confidence in recent games for club and country.
He’s conceded in all of his last eight games but two and may not look as one to rely during shootouts as records have shown he’s not faced with many spot kicks just as he was below par in few he’s faced.
With Nigeria questing to win her fourth AFCON title and the possibility the match decided throughout shootouts, there’s need for Peseiro to look elsewhere.
For Olorunleke Ojo, it is no doubting the fact that the Enyimba goalkeeper has not had recent national team exposure but he’s had something close to that with continental football with the People’s Elephants.
He has shown capacity in the league with enormous command and control of his goal area which being the captain of the club has also helped him.
He can also be relied on when the Angolans may have dragged the game to shootouts. His reflexes and timing as well as kicks can also count for him as one to be favored for Nwabali’s replacement.
Whoever Peseiro decided to choose between the goalkeeper, Nigerians should be rest assured of good goalkeeping provided the defense maintained their perfect performance.