Premier Soccer League club, Chippa United, have caused a stir by declaring support for goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali and the Super Eagles of Nigeria over their national team, Bafana Bafana of South Africa, ahead of Wednesday’s African Cup of Nations semifinal clash in Ivory Coast.
Super Eagles first-choice goalkeeper, Nwabali, plies his trade with Chippa United who currently sit 13th in the South African league and has been a revelation for the Nigerian side having conceded just one goal since the start of the tournament.
With the Super Eagles set to face the Bafana Bafana side, Chippa were faced with a dilemma to either choose loyalty or support their Nigerian goalie and risk the wrath of South Africans ahead of the crucial clash dubbed ‘Afrobeats vs Amapiano clash’ by netizens.
However, Chippa United’s chief, Siviwe Chippa Mpengesi made a surprise call on Wednesday by choosing to stand by their Nigerian goalie over their South African National team.
He said, “As the Chairman of Chippa United FC and as a proud South African, I find myself in a unique position during this 2023 AFCON tournament in that our very own Nigeria international Stanley Nwabali has been a revelation: his performance for the Nigerian National Team has caught the eyes of the globe. earning him and our club international acclaim.
“With Stanley’s rising profile and the international attention it brings to Chippa United FC. the benefits have been nothing but positive. Therefore, I and Chippa United FC stand behind our player Stanley Nwabali and the Nigerian Super Eagles tomorrow against South Africa Bafana Bafana. We wish the Super Eagles all the best.”
Mpengesi however took time to acknowledge Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos “who boldly trusted our domestic players, unlike previous Bafana Bafana national team coaches who preferred to select players who played abroad as bench warmers instead, to represent our National Team. My commendation also go out to Mamelodi Sundowns FC and their technical staff for their outstanding contribution, highlighted by the inclusion of 8 players in the Bafana Bafana starting lineup. Furthermore, my heartfelt applause is due to the CAF President Dr. Patrice Motsepe for orchestrating what is arguably the finest AFCON tournament of the century. showcasing the continent’s football prowess and uniting us in the spirit of the game. It’s a moment of pride and reflection on our journey and growth in African football.”
The message comes as the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation allayed the fears of Nigerians based in South Africa after reports of possible threats went viral ahead of the AFCON semifinal.
An advisory issued by the Nigeria High Commission in South Africa on Monday warned the “Nigerian community to be watchful of their utterances, be mindful of where they choose to watch the match, especially in public places, and refrain from engaging in loud, riotous or provocative celebrations should the Super Eagles win the match.”
The high commission based its advisory on “potentially inflammatory online comments made by a section of South African citizens against Nigerians living in the host country,” adding that the comments were “largely influenced” by the upcoming AFCON clash on Wednesday, February 7 (today).
Reacting ahead of the 4th AFCON clash between both nations, South Africa’s DIRCO on Tuesday disagreed with the position of the high commission, urging the public to shun the advisory which “seems to create alarm and unnecessary tension” between citizens of both nations.
“We are confident that the sports-loving nation of South Africa poses no threat to Nigerian citizens, and we do not agree with the apprehension expressed by the High Commission.
“The advisory is regrettable because it seems to create alarm and unnecessary tension between the citizens of South Africa and Nigerians living in or visiting South Africa,” the statement read.
The Super Eagles will be hoping to make it the fourth straight win over the Bafana Bafana of South Africa when they clash at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake in Ivory Coast today by 6 p.m. (Nigerian time).