Nigeria vs South Africa: Nwabali can’t wait for ‘home debut’

Super Eagles goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali is eagerly anticipating Friday's 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier against South Africa at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo.

The prospect of making his home debut in front of Nigerian supporters fills him with excitement and determination.

“Playing in front of the fans at home is always special,” Nwabali shared. “It's going to be a great game for me. I wouldn't say it's going to be tough because I love playing in front of the fans.

Stanley Nwabali in come-and-get-me plea to English club: 'I can't grow with Chippa'
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“Playing a home game like this gives me the motivation to do well.”

Nwabali's enthusiasm is infectious as he looks forward to facing South Africa once again.

The two teams last clashed in the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), where the Super Eagles triumphed on penalties to reach the final.

Considering he plays in South Africa and has had numerous battles with a lot of Bafana Bafana players, Nwabali is excited and looking forward to the game.

“This is a different game and a unique occasion to get a win over Bafana Bafana,” Nwabali said. “The first one was a knockout game at AFCON, and this is a World Cup qualifier.

“I won't say the last game gives us an edge, but it certainly gives us another motivation to play against them.”

Nwabali feels no pressure

Despite the high stakes, Nwabali remains calm and focused. “There is no pressure at all. We have to put ourselves together and try to win this game.”

Nwabali has been training with the Super Eagles squad in Uyo, preparing diligently for the upcoming fixtures against South Africa and Benin Republic in Abidjan on Monday.

His journey to this point has been marked by significant improvements right from his time in the Nigeria Premier Football League

The 28 year-old has had stints in the NPFL with Go Round FC, Katsina United, Enyimba, Lobi Stars, and Wikki Tourists.

Stanley Nwabali Nigeria players transfer news
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His performances after moving to Chippa United impressed, earning him a spot as Nigeria's first-choice goalkeeper at the last AFCON in Côte d'Ivoire.

During the tournament, he was instrumental in the Super Eagles' journey to the final, keeping four clean sheets and emerging as the hero in the penalty shootout against South Africa.

Reflecting on his AFCON experience, Nwabali said, “Being Nigeria's first-choice goalkeeper at the last AFCON was incredible.

“Helping the team reach the final was a proud moment for me, even though we lost to Côte d'Ivoire in the grand finale.”

As the crucial match against South Africa approaches, Nwabali is expected to start in goal on Friday at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo.

We need the energy of the fans – Stanley Nwabali

The team is in high spirits, bolstered by the arrival of key players and the unwavering support of their fans.

“To our fans, thank you for your continuous support. Your presence and encouragement mean the world to us,” Nwabali concluded.

“We feel your energy, and it drives us to perform at our best.

We promise to give everything on the field to secure our place in the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Keep believing in us, and we'll make you proud.”

Nigeria vs South Africa: Nwabali can’t wait for ‘home debut’
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)