The UEFA Champions League is the competition where the stars of club football shine brightest. Stars are born on this stage. Every football player on the planet dreams of one day winning ‘the trophy with the big ears’. Nwankwo Kanu, John Obi Mikel and recently, Victor Osimhen, are a few of the famous Nigerians who have represented their clubs in the UEFA Champions League.
This season, there will be six Nigerians competing for the biggest prize in club football. Four of these players, will be playing in the competition for the very first time.
EaglesTracker has previewed the upcoming UEFA Champions League season.
Frank Onyeka (FC Midtjylland)
Onyeka had a brilliant 2019/2020 season with FC Midtjylland, winning the club’s Player of the Year award. The 22-year old midfielder was a consistent part of the team that went on to win the Danish Super Liga.
Midtjylland qualified for the group stage with a qualification run which ended with a 4-1 victory over Slavia Prague. Onyeka scored their third goal of the night.
They have been drawn into group D alongside 2019 champions, Liverpool, Ajax and Italian side, Atalanta. Midtjylland are the weakest team in the group on paper, but where there is a Nigerian heart, there is hope.
Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto)
New kid, Zaidu Sanusi will be raring to go in the Champions League for the very first time this season. Having joined the Portuguese giants in August for four million euros, the 23-year old left-back could potentially play a key role, if FC Porto are to make it to the knockout rounds. They’ve been drawn alongside Man City, Oympiacos and Marseille in group C.
Odion Ighalo (Manchester United)
Ighalo might not be the first name on the team sheet these days, but he would expect to have a role to play in the Champions League this season. With congested fixture lists and possible injuries, he would be hoping to get some minutes on the pitch. Manchester United will be playing against PSG, RB Leipzig and Istanbul Basaksehir in Group H. It will be Odion Ighalo’s first time playing in the Champions League.
Azubike Okechukwu (Istanbul Basaksehir) * (Not currently registered in squad):
The 2016 Rio Olympic Bronze medalist is another Nigerian playing in the competition this season. Following an impressive 2019/2020 campaign, the 22-year old holding midfielder might be making his UEFA champions league debut with Turkish champions, Istanbul Basaksehir. They have been drawn alongside French champions PSG , RB Leipzig and Odion Ighalo’s Manchester United in Group H.
Dennis Bonaventure & David Okereke (Club Brugge)
Bonaventure and Okereke aren’t new to this competition having both featured last season. Bonaventure made headlines when he scored twice as Club Brugge nearly stunned Real Madrid in a 2-2 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu. They were unfortunately knocked out at the group stage, after finishing third, and will be hoping for a better showing this year. They will face Football Club Zenit, Lazio and Borrusia Dortmund in Group F.
Since the inception of the Champions League only three Nigerians, Nwankwo Kanu, Finindi George and Mikel Obi ave won the prestigious UEFA Champions League.
Can a Nigerian lead his side to UEFA Champions League glory in 2021 ? Leave a comment or reaction below.