Nigerian stars know Champions League foes

Nigerian footballers playing in the Champions League, gear up for the games ahead.

 Tunde Eludini

After helping their various teams to the group phase, the Super Eagles players left in the UEFA Champions League now know what teams they face after Thursday’s draw in Monaco, France

For Nigerian international defender, Elderson Echiejile, his Portuguese club,Sporting Braga, will have their hands full as they have been drawn alongside former Champions, Manchester United.

Braga qualified for this stage of the competition by defeating Italian club, Udinese, 5:4 on penalties after playing out a 1:1 draws over both legs.

They will have a difficult task on their hands against former English champions, Manchester United, who are by all means an experienced side in this competition.

Other teams that were drawn together with Sporting Braga include – Turkish giants, Galatasaray and CFR Cluj.

For Eagles forward, Emmanuel Emenike, the toughest team in the group stage will be Spanish giants Barcelona.

Aside Barca, Emenike’s Russian outfit, Spartak Moscow have the likes of former Portuguese Champions, Benfica , Scottish champions, Celtic to contend with to make the next round.

The 25 year-old prolific striker played a pivotal role in his team’s qualification for the UEFA Champion’s league group stage. He scored one of the goals that saw his compatriot Joseph Yobo’s Turkish club, Fenerbache crash out on a 3:2 aggregate score line.

On their part, the duo of Taye Taiwo and Ideye Brown saw their club, Dynamo Kiev drawn in group A against FC Porto, Dynamo Zagreb and French side, PSG.

Ideye it will be recalled, helped Dynamo Kiev to secure a group stage ticket when he scored the only goal in the 88th minute in a return leg encounter against Borussia M’gladbach at home to send the Ukrainian side through on a 4-3 aggregate.

In a group that is considered fair, the Ukrainian side stands a good chance of qualifying for the knock out rounds of the competition if they continue to play the way they played during the play-offs.

Ideye hopes to replicate his goal scoring form when the champions’ league group stage games gets on the way next month.

The last set of Super Eagles players, Mikel Obi and Victor Moses, have been drawn in group E of the UEFA Champions’ league group stage.

The European champions, who will be battling to retain the trophy won last time, will be up against Italian giants, Juventus, Denmark’s Nordsjælland and Shaktar Donetsk of Ukraine in the Group phase.

Only three Nigerian players have so far won the coveted European Champions League trophy. They are Kanu Nwankwo, Finidi George and most recently, Mikel Obi.

The Champions League will swing into full action in September.


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