Following speculations over the fitness of goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali for Nigeria’s quarter-final clash against Angola in the ongoing 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, coach Jose Peseiro has expressed faith in the ability of Francis Uzoho between the sticks on Friday (today), PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
Nwabali’s availability for the Angola clash has been in doubt due to an injury he sustained during the 1-0 win over Cameroon in the round of 16 last Saturday.
However, he only missed one training session on Monday and was said to be in training on Tuesday and Wednesday which were used to assess his fitness.
Ahead of today’s game, Peseiro addressed the goalkeeper’s situation, stating that his availability was still subject to a late fitness test during the team’s last training session for the game on Thursday.
“We have to wait for a late fitness test today (Thursday), if he is not ready, I have other goalkeepers (Uzoho and Ojo). I believe and trust all my goalkeepers, if Nwabali is not fit, I trust Uzoho,” Peseiro said at the pre-match conference on Thursday.
Nwabali’s fitness has created anxiety among Nigerian fans who are still expecting the new number one to return to action against Angola today.
“At the mention of Uzoho’s name, every Nigerian gets scared,” a fan Sholumade Wale said.
Another fan, Dare Johnson, also queried the trust of the Portuguese coach in the embattled goalkeeper.
“Why do you always say you trust Uzoho? Have you considered what we think about him, if we trust Uzoho?”
Nwabali has been in goal for all of Nigeria’s four games at the 2023 AFCON including Nigeria’s pre-tournament friendly against Guinea in Abu Dhabi earlier this month.
He has conceded just once in four appearances at the AFCON and three times in all his five games for the country, keeping three clean sheets in the process.
Nigeria will take on Angola at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium, Abidjan at 6pm Nigerian time today.