UEFA Champions League: Nigerian stars set for battle

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Tunde Eleduni

Friday’s UEFA Champions League play-of draws has pitched some Nigerian players against themselves as they battle for places in the Group stages of the world’s biggest club competition.

In some of the fixtures, Joseph Yobo’s Fenerbahçe will travel away to Russia and face Emmanuel Emenike’s Spartak Moscow in a 1st leg encounter on the 21st of August while the return leg is billed for Turkey two weeks later.

The Nigerian skipper who only recently completed his dream move to Turkey will hope to get a starting place in his team’s line up after missing out in the in last round of the competition.

Emenike on his part has been a key part of his Moscow based club scoring the fastest goal in the club’s history recently and would have the burden of expectation to score goals when the crunch fixtures gets underway.

Also another fixture involving Nigerian players on opposing sides is the game between Italian outfit Udinese and Portuguese giants Sporting Braga.

Recently kidnapped Christian Obodo plays in the midfield of Udinese while his compatriot, Elderson Echejiles stars for Braga in the defense. Both ‘brothers’ will literally become enemies on the pitch as they battle for places in the Group phase of the Champions League.

Other players

Other Nigerian players who will also hope to represent their respective clubs as they fight for spots in the group stage of the competition will include the likes of Taye Taiwo, Brown Ideye, Haruna Lukman and Yusf Ayila who all play for Ukranian side Dyanmo Kiev.

In other play-off fixtures, Dynamo Kyiv will first play away to German side, Borussia VfL Mönchengladbach bfore the reurn clash in Kiev two weeks later

Former youth international Rabiu ibrahim’s Celtic are pitched against Helsingborg.

Two months ago, Chelsea and Nigerian ace midfielder John Obi Mikel joined the league of players that has lifted the the coveted UEFA Champions League.

Apart from Mikel Obi, the other Nigerian players that have won the Champions League are Kanu Nwankwo and Gerorge Finidi while they were with Dutch Club Ajax Amsterdam

The ten winners from this round of fixtures will join the 22 automatic entrants in the group stage, the draw for which is held in Monaco on 30 August. The losers will take part in the UEFA Europa League group stage.

The final takes place at Wembley on 25 May 2013

Full Play-off Fixtures

UEFA Champions League play-off draw

Champions route

FC Basel 1893 (SUI) v CFR 1907 Cluj (ROU)

Helsingborgs IF (SWE) v Celtic FC (SCO)

FC BATE Borisov (BLR) v Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC (ISR)

AEL Limassol FC (CYP) v RSC Anderlecht (BEL)

GNK Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) v NK Maribor (SVN)

League route

SC Braga (POR) v Udinese Calcio (ITA)

FC Spartak Moskva (RUS) v Fenerbahçe SK (TUR)

Málaga CF (ESP) v Panathinaikos FC (GRE)

VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach (GER) v FC Dynamo Kyiv (UKR)

LOSC Lille Métropole (FRA) v FC København (DEN)


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