Not all heroes wear capes – some arrive when you have no goalkeepers and a shirt number taped on their back.
And that was the case for Comoros left-back, and shot-stopper for the night, Chaker Alhadhur who stole the show and the world’s hearts with his spirited effort between the goal post s in the African Cup of Nations.
The Comorese star, who normally plays as a full-back or left-midfielder, was forced to take up the goalkeeper gloves as a Coronavirus and injury crisis meant the East Africans were without, all three of their goalkeepers for their 2-1 defeat to hosts Cameroon in the Round-of-16.
With only a few goalkeeper training sessions under his belt, a not so imposing 5’8” frame, and an oversized shirt with his No.3 taped on his back, Alhadhur was in the unfamiliar position of catching crosses, rather than whipping them in.
But in one of the most unforgettable moments of the tournament, Alhadhur was described as “prime Schmeichel” after a stunning double save from Vincent Aboubakar and Moumi Ngamaleu.
Despite the fact his huge dearth of goalkeeping experience and training resulted in him going down in instalments, Alhadhur fell to his left, rolled onto his belly, and punched Aboubakar’s first effort away with the back of his hand.
But as the ball fell into the path of Ngamaleu, Alhadhur exploded to his feet, darted across his goal, and somehow clawed the rebound away to safety.
HAVE YOUR SAY! What other instances of out-field players, playing in goal can you think off? Comment below
Ngamaleu looked shocked, Alhadhur could not stop smiling, and the whole of Africa, and perhaps the footballing world was brought to its feet.
Unfortunately for Comoros and football’s romantics, the seventh minute red card of central defender Jimmy Abdou, who was dismissed for a needless and reckless studs up challenge, meant it was one miracle too far for the East Africans.
Goals from Karl Toko Ekambi and Aboubaker put the hosts in a commanding position, but Comoros star Youssouf M’Changama forced a tense finish when he halved the deficit with a sensational 40-yard free-kick.
But even that sensational goal did not steal the headlines of Alhadhur, as the footballing world basked in his inspired performance.
“He’s doing better than Nigeria’s keeper,” said one supporter.
“In the first save, he made the smart decision not to come out like a lot of keepers might have done,” added another admirer who perhaps feels Alhadhur could teach the modern goalkeeper a thing or two.
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“Love the smile at the end. Beats Jordan Pickford always moaning at his defenders,” said another viewer.
He also demonstrated his excellent heading ability, when he opted to head the ball instead of catching it.
Maybe Alhadhur will garner the interest of the likes of Pep Guardiola – after-all, his experience as a left-back means he is excellent with his feet.
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