NPFL: Top 5 goalkeepers of the 2023/24 season

The 2023/24 Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) season has been a captivating display of attacking prowess and defensive resilience.

However, often overlooked are the silent guardians between the sticks – the goalkeepers.

These shot-stoppers have proven their mettle with countless breathtaking saves, playing a pivotal role in their teams' success.

NPFL: Top 5 shot-stoppers of the 2023/24 season

Leading the charge is Enyimba's Leke Ojo, a name already etched in national headlines.

Having secured the number one spot for his club, Ojo's exceptional performances earned him a well-deserved call-up to represent Nigeria at the recent Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

But Ojo isn't alone in his goalkeeping heroics. Several other shot-stoppers have risen to the occasion, making incredible contributions to their respective clubs.

With the season entering its final six games, the title race remains wide open. Here, we shine a spotlight on five goalkeepers who have truly shone brightest in the NPFL this season.

Japhet Opubo (Rangers)

Towering between the sticks for Enugu Rangers, goalkeeper Emmanuel Opubo has been a rock-solid presence throughout their impressive run at the top of the NPFL table. Here's a closer look at his impact on the team:

Opubo's journey to becoming Rangers' number one involved displacing a talented  goalkeeper, former youth international Detan Ogundare. Since then he has not looked back as he is now the established first choice for the league leaders.

Standing tall and built like a tank, Opubo's physical stature is a natural deterrent to opposing attackers. This, combined with his experience (being 31 years old), allows him to radiate confidence and command his area with authority.

Numbers don't lie. Opubo's impressive record of starting 23 matches and keeping a clean sheet in eight of them speaks for itself.

These statistics highlight his consistency and ability to shut out opponents, a crucial factor in Rangers' current league leadership position.

With six games remaining in the season, the pressure is on for Rangers to maintain their lead and claim the coveted NPFL title, which has eluded them since 2016.

Opubo's continued strong form will be a significant factor in achieving this goal. If he can sustain his focus and concentration, his experience and shot-stopping ability will be vital in keeping challengers at bay.

Johnson Nmecha (Abia Warriors)

NPFL: Top 5 shot-stoppers of the 2023/24 season
Photo by Abia Warriors Media

Abia Warriors' remarkable run in the NPFL this season can be attributed to several factors, but one name stands out – Johnson Nmecha. The 25-year-old goalkeeper has risen from relative obscurity to become a key figure for the Umuahia side.

Despite lacking prior NPFL experience, Nmecha's commanding presence and sharp reflexes during pre-season convinced the club to make him their first-choice goalkeeper.

His calm demeanour conceals the instincts of a world-class shot-stopper, enabling him to remain composed under pressure.

Nmecha's talents extend beyond shot-stopping; he is equally skilled with the ball at his feet, often initiating attacks with his precise distribution.

His vision and accurate passing make him a crucial component of the team's offensive strategy, setting the tone for their play from the back.

As a vocal leader, Nmecha commands his defense with authority, and his aerial prowess provides a constant source of reassurance for Abia Warriors, effectively neutralizing threats from set-pieces and crosses.

 His performances have endeared him to fans and earned widespread acclaim across Nigeria.

Having starred in 23 games this season with nine clean sheets, Nmecha is undoubtedly one of the breakout stars of the 2023/24 NPFL season.

Lucky Abdullahi (Lobi Stars)

When Lobi Stars signed Abdullahi from Niger Tornadoes in 2023, many raised eyebrows. Given the pedigree of existing Lobi goalkeepers, doubts swirled over whether Abdullahi was the right fit.

However, the young goalkeeper silenced his critics with a resounding performance.

He quickly established himself as the undisputed number one, playing a pivotal role in Lobi's early season success.

Under his leadership, the Makurdi side surged to the top of the league table and remained firmly within the top three for a significant period.

NPFL: Top 5 shot-stoppers of the 2023/24 season
Photo by Lobi Stars Media

Standing tall as a formidable figure between the sticks, Abdullahi's height and sharp reflexes became a wall for opposing attackers.

 His strength in one-on-one situations instilled confidence in the Lobi defense, while his exceptional shot-stopping ability kept the team in contention for the league title.

While Lobi has recently suffered a run of disappointing results, currently sitting in fifth place with six games remaining, Abdullahi's contributions can't be overlooked.

He has been a constant source of stability throughout the season, featuring in 24 games and registering an impressive 11 clean sheets.

Amas Obasogie (Bendel Insurance)

Obasogie is picking up right where he left off last season, shining brightly for Bendel Insurance and catching the eye of national team selectors once again.

After a string of impressive performances, he was called up by former Super Eagles coach Jose Peseiro for the AFCON qualifier against Sierra Leone in November 2023.

The 24-year-old goalkeeper is a rock at the back for Bendel Insurance, boasting the best defensive record (in terms of goals conceded) among clubs currently in the top 10 of the league.

Known for his exceptional reflexes, Obasogie continuously demonstrates his reliability and composure under pressure.

NPFL: Top 5 shot-stoppers of the 2023/24 season
Photo by Bendel Insurance Media

His heroics on Matchday 31 against Lobi Stars away from home solidified his reputation. With a series of brilliant saves, Obasogie secured a crucial draw for Insurance in Lafia, earning him a well-deserved Man of the Match performance.

This performance, along with his consistent displays throughout the season, has generated significant praise on social media and solidified his claim as one of the best goalkeepers in the Nigerian domestic league.

Obasogie's impressive form continues, with 29 games played and a remarkable 15 clean sheets this season. These statistics further solidify his status as a top performer in the league.

Kayode Bankole (Remo Stars)

NPFL: Top 5 shot-stoppers of the 2023/24 season
Photo by Remo Stars Media

Remo Stars' Kayode Bankole is one of the brightest young goalkeeper making waves in the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL).

While not immune to the occasional blunder, his talent and positive contributions are undeniable.

Despite facing criticism for some high-profile errors, Bankole's overall performance demonstrates his potential as a top goalkeeper.

He has consistently displayed impressive shot-stopping abilities, a strong command of his area, and a confident presence that inspires his defense.

These strengths are evident in Remo's impressive defensive record – the third-best in the league behind established giants Bendel Insurance and Enyimba.

Remo Stars' defensive solidity can be partly attributed to Bankole's heroics.

With only 28 goals conceded in 28 matches, the Ikenne side boasts a robust backline, with Bankole playing a pivotal role.

This defensive resilience, coupled with their 40 goals scored, has propelled them to second place in the league table. Bankole's contribution is further highlighted by his impressive 15 clean sheets in the 25 matches he has played.

Beyond shot-stopping, Bankole exhibits strong leadership qualities. His vocal communication on the field is crucial in directing and organizing the Remo Stars defense.

This leadership becomes even more critical as the league enters its crucial final stretch, where every point holds immense value.

Remo Stars manager Daniel Ogunmodede will undoubtedly be hoping for Bankole to maintain his top form as they navigate the intense final games of the season.

Bankole's ability to minimize errors while continuing his consistent shot-stopping and leadership will be key to Remo Stars' success in their pursuit of the NPFL title.

Honorable mentions – Leke Ojo (Enyimba), Abiodun Akande (Rivers United) Kingdom Osayi (Doma United)

NPFL: Top 5 goalkeepers of the 2023/24 season
Andrew Randa

Andrew Randa is a veteran Nigerian sports journalist with over 20 years of experience covering the beautiful game across Africa. Andrew served as a Media Officer for Nigeria's U-20 Men's National Team for three years, offering a unique perspective on the future stars of Nigerian football.

Beyond reporting, Andrew is a pioneer in sports graphics creation within Nigeria. His expertise extends to sports kit design, making him a true multi-faceted talent in the African sports landscape.

Andrew's experience is vast, with collaborations encompassing prestigious names like Kickoff, SuperSport, the NFF (Nigeria Football Federation), and the NPFL (Nigeria Professional Football League)