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Editorials, Sports

Nigerians in Europe’s Club Football Competitions

BOUNCE SPORTS spotlights these six Nigerian players who will battle to end the wait for another Nigerian Champions League or Europa League winner

  • Toyosi Afolayan
  • 16th February 2023
Nigerians In Europe's Club Football Competitions

The stage is set for the 2022/23 UEFA club competitions knockout stages (Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League) with fans around the world understandably excited. The situation is similar in Nigeria, where the country’s player representation in Europe’s club competitions has increased in recent seasons. BOUNCE SPORTS spotlights these six Nigerian players who will battle to end the wait for another Nigerian Champions League or Europa League winner after the heroics of Finidi George, Kanu Nwankwo, John Obi Mikel, Victor Moses, Taribo West, and Chidi Odiah. Mikel was the last Nigerian to lift the Champions League trophy, and he did so with Chelsea 11 years ago. In the UEFA Europa League, Mikel Obi and Victor Moses were the last Nigeria internationals to have won the tournament.


Joe Aribo, Calvin Bassey and Leon Balogun could’ve been added to the list but fell short having played in Glasgow Rangers’ loss to the Eintracht Frankfurt in the final of the Europa League in 2022.


In first place is Victor Osimhen‘s Napoli who are top of their league table and will meet German side Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Champions League last sixteen. The Italian topflight runaway leaders will travel to the Deutsche Bank Park, Frankfurt on February 21 and will host the UEFA Europa League defending champions on March 15 for the second leg at the Estadio Diego Armando Maradona.


Still in the Champions League, Raphael Onyedika and Club Brugge were drawn to face Portuguese Primera Liga giants SL Benfica. The first leg will be played at Jan Breydel Stadium in Bruge on February 15 while the reverse fixture is billed to hold at Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on the 7th of March.


In Europe’s second tier club competition, Ajax Amsterdam and Calvin Bassey will host Union Berlin at the Johan Cruijff Arena in the first leg on February 16 before traveling to the Stadion An der Alten Försterei on February 23.


Another game to watch out for is FC Nantes’ encounter with Juventus. Moses Simon’s side will travel to Allianz Stadium on the 16th of February and will host the Old Ladies a week later at the Beaujoire Stadium. Still in the Europa League, Fenerbahçe S.K. (Samuel Osayi), Royale Union Saint-Gilloise (Victor Boniface) and Ferencvárosi TC (Anderson Esiti) are through to the round of 16.


In the Europa Conference League, Gift Emmanuel Orban and Ahmed Abdullahi are looking forward to help K.A.A Gent overcome Azerbaijan club Qarabag in the playoff rounds. The first round holds at the Azərsun Arena on Thursday 16th February while the reverse encounter takes place a week later at the KAA Gent Stadium. Rasheed Akanbi and Iyayi Believe Atiemwen will be on parade when Sheriff Tiraspol host Partizan Belgrade at the “Sheriff” Sports Complex on February 16 and the second leg is at the Stadium JNA on February 23.


Nigerian international Ishaq Abdulrazaq has been registered by RSC Anderlecht. The 20-year-old is expected to be on parade for the Belgian club when they take on PFC Ludogorets Razgrad in a double header clash in February. Villarreal CF (Samuel Chukwueze), Sivasspor (Ahmed Musa), Slovan Bratislava (Uche Agbo) and Nice (Terem Moffi) have made it through to the next round.


Cyriel Dessers had an exceptional outing in the inaugural season of the Conference League, winning the top goal scorer award but couldn’t help his side defeat AS ROMA in the final.

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