Six Nigerian players are set to hit the big stage as the UEFA Champions blasts to a roaring start on Tuesday.
The Super Eagles trio of Bryan Idowu, Henry Onyekuru, and Chidozie Awaziem will be leading the Nigerian contingent who will feature in this season’s Europe biggest club competition.
These players will sure fancy their chances as they aim to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Nwankwo Kanu, Finidi George and John Mikel Obi who have all tasted the sweetness of UCL victory.
Hotsportstv.com hereby unveil these players and their chances of making it far in football’s most lucrative club football tournament.:
1. Bryan Idowu:
Bryan Idowu made his Super Eagles debut in November 2017 and was part of the team to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Having featured in all three Super Eagles games at the World Cup, the 26-year-old right back switched from Amkar Perm to a bigger Russian side, Locomotiv Moscow in the summer of 2018.
Even though the Russian based player is yet to feature for his new club since his recent unveiling, the fact that he is included in the club’s Champions League squad for the 2018/2019 season means he has a chance to play in the competition at some point in the club’s campaign.
2. Henry Onyekuru:
Having been loaned from Everton, Onyekuru has shown glimpses of brilliance with the Turkish Side Galatasaray.The former RSC Anderlecht goal poacher has so far scored two goals in 5 league appearances for the Turkish giants and will no doubt be the team’s most important striker in this season’s Champions League competition.
The 21-year-old forward is being touted to become Eagles’ next super-striker in the coming seasons. He was quite unlucky to have missed out of the Nigerian squad to the 2018 FIFA World Cup but has since bounced back to the team.
3. Emmanuel Dennis Bonaventure
J As a former Kwara Football Academy player, Dennis will be the youngest Nigerian player to feature in this season’s UEFA Champions League. The 20-year-old striker was named in the UCL squad of the Belgian side, Club Brugge.
B Dennis has so far started three games in five appearances for Club Brugge, netting twice so far in the Belgian Pro Jupiter League.
4. Ubong Moses Ekpai
Ubong joined Czech champions, Victoria Plzen in a 3-year deal in earlier in the summer and will be featuring in the Europe elite competition with the Czech side.
The former Akwa United midfielder since his departure from the Nigerian professional league has played for Maccabi Haifa in Israel, Slofan Liberec, FC. Zlin and now Victoria Plzen ( all in the Czech Republic)
5. Chidozie Awaziem:
Chidozie finally got the all-important promotion from the Porto B side to the Porto first team and was included in the Portuguese giant Champions League squad.
The 21-year-old Nigerian centre-back has been in FC Porto’s youth team since 2015 and was promoted to the senior team shortly after his exploits with the Super Eagles at the World Cup.
Although he didn’t feature in any World Cup game, Chidozie will be anxiously looking forward to making an appearance at the biggest stage in Club football
6. Kayode Olanrewaju:
Kayode Olanrewaju is one of the two listed strikers by the Ukrainian club, Shakhtar Donetsk for the 2018/2019 Champions League season.
Kayode signed for English champions, Manchester City last summer in a £3.5m deal but switched to the Ukrainian side in July after failing to record any appearance for Guardiola’s team.
He was loaned to Spanish side, Girona and then Shakhtar Donetsk in the 2017/2018 season. A situation that prompted him to sign a 5-year contract with Shakhtar Donetsk.
The Eagles striker will be Shakhtar’s leading striker for the coming Champions League season.
The Nigerian duo of Kanu Nwankwo and Finidi George was part of the young UEFA Champions League winning team with Ajax Amsterdam in 1995 as they defeated AC Milan 1-0 and to clinch the trophy unbeaten through the competition.
Both players almost conquered Europe in the succeeding season but lost out in the final to Juventus.
John Mikel Obi marshalled the Chelsea midfield to a record first Champions League victory over Bayern Munich in 2012.
The Blues under former coach, Roberto Di Matteo led the London side to an all emotional and unforgettable win for Chelsea fans in 2012 and Mikel was a member of the historical team.
Who do you think is a player to watch out for? Or do you think any of them can lift the Champions League trophy at the Wanda Metropolitano in 2019?