Super Eagles striker, Victor Osimhen will face off with his international teammate , Calvin Bassey as seven Nigerians will be in action across five different groups for their various clubs when the 2022/2023 UEFA Champions League kicks off in September.

The Union of European Football Associations on Thursday held the draws for the 2022/2023 season of the world’s most celebrated football clubs competition in Istanbul Turkiye where 32 elite clubs were grouped for the competition which kicks off in September 2022.

From the draws, seven Nigerian players who ply their trade in Europe will join their teammates to vie for the glory of the competition which goes into its 68 years of existence and 31st year of rebranding.

Here are the little details of the Nigerians that will be representing their clubs in this season’s Champions League.

Victor James Osimhen: The 23-year-old will be leading the frontline of SC Napoli as they match up against Liverpool, Ajax Amsterdam and Glasgow Rangers. With two goals in two matches this season, the former Lille OSC hitman will be a threat to the defence of his opponents who will have a lot to do to curtail his pace, strength and killer shots.

Samson Okikiola Tijani: He was part of the Nigeria side to compete in the Africa U-17 Cup of Nations, where they came 4th and qualified for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup. During his team’s opening match against Hungary, Tijani scored a brace as Nigeria U17 won 4–2. The Enugu born made his debut with the senior Nigeria national team in a friendly 1-0 loss to Algeria on 9 October 2020.

In the 2021–22 winter break, the 20-year-old was promoted to FC Red Bull Salzburg’s main squad and made his debut on 6 February 2022, in the Cup match against LASK. He came in in the 89th minute for Nicolas Capaldo in a 3–1 win. He will join his team to play against the likes of Chelsea, AC Milan and Dynamo Zagreb – a Europa cup place won’t be bad for the team after six games as the odds favours Chelsea and AC Milan to progress from the group.

Olanrewaju Ayobami Kayode: Caped four times for the Super Eagles, Kayode Olanrewaju will be joining the attacks of the Ukrainian side, Shakhtar Donetsk when they square up against the likes of Real Madrid, RB Leipzig and Celtic FC – a very dicey one for them as they will have to be up and doing if they must book their passage to the knockout stage of the Europe most prestigious football clubs competition.

Fortune Akpan Bassey: Currently on loan at Vitoria Plzen from Ferencvaros, the 23-year-old has been used as a poacher and as a target man for his team this season and he will fancy his chances in a deadly group – group C alongside Bayern Munich, and Barcelona and Inter Milan – when the competition starts. Not in any way tipped to progress from this group, Plzen would determine who makes it to the UEFA second-tier competition at the end of six group matches.

Amoo Ayobami Akinkunmi: The 20-year-old Amoo signed a five-year deal with F.C. Copenhagen in the Danish Superliga from Hammarby FC on 31 January 2022, for a fee of around €5M – a record-breaking transfer for Hammarby.

The Ibadan-born winger was sought out by Nigeria head coach Augustine Eguavoen for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, as a replacement for Odion Ighalo who had to withdraw from the tournament, but the call-up was not granted by the Confederation of African Football. He will surely have enough time when they set out against the likes of Manchester City, Sevilla and Borrusia Dortmund in group G of the competition.

Calvin Ughelumba Bassey: Newly transferred to FC Ajax Amsterdam from Glasgow Rangers, the 22-year-old will be helping his team face the likes of Liverpool, his former side, Rangers and his countryman side, SC Napoli in group A. Calvin Bassey has played for the Super Eagles on six occasions with no goal yet to his name.

Zaidu Sanusi: 25-year-old Jega of Kebbi born will be hoping to help his team progress from a group where many would tip them to progress from – group B where they will face off with the likes of Athletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and Club Brugge. The former Mirandela FC marksman with 10 caps for the Super Eagles is a regular for 2003/2004 champions and will surely be amongst the players the team would depend on to book the round of 16 places at the end of the group stage.

Only Finidi George, Kanu Nwankwo (both with Ajax in 1994/1995 season) and John Obi Mikel (2012 season) have tasted Champions League glory as Nigerians and we expect to see the Nigerians represent their various clubs very well and many Nigerians will be rooting for their brothers when the competition kicks off in September.

By Ayoola Adeleke

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