Jose Peseiro, head coach of Nigeria during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers training session for Nigeria at Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, Nigeria on 8 September 2023 © Justina Aniefiok/BackpagePix
Friday Feb 09, 2024. 16:30
Stanley Nwabali has revealed how a visit from Nigeria head coach Jose Peseiro in December motivated him to star for his country at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
The 27-year-old goalkeeper was included in Peseiro’s 25-man squad for the tournament in Ivory Coast on the back of his impressive displays for Chippa United in South Africa.
Peseiro watched Nwabali in action for the Chilli Boys on December 9 as he kept a clean sheet in a 2-0 win over Golden Arrows at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha.
The Chippa shotstopper went on to start in all six matches for the Super Eagles at the continental showpiece as they reached the final for the first time since the 2013 edition.
He played a starring role against Bafana Bafana in the semi-finals on Wednesday, saving two penalties in the shootout as Peseiro’s side emerged 4-2 victors to set up a date with AFCON hosts Ivory Coast on Sunday.
Nwabali admitted he was able to bring a new-found confidence to the team which stemmed from the Portuguese tactician believing in his abilities.
“When the coach informed me that he was coming to South Africa to see me, it was just like a dream to me because coming down to my club to see me, one of the biggest coaches coaching the national team of Nigeria coming down to see me, it was just a motivation to me,” he told Nationsport.
“He said he was coming to see me and I said to myself that it is going to be an honour to play. I feel like when a coach believes in you, it will bring lots of confidence in the team. I feel like I can do more in terms of bringing confidence in the team.
“Again, I get more confidence with this group of players because these guys want to win and everybody wants to win. I feel more comfortable playing with them.”