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Nigerians in the UEFA Champions League

By: Obiweluozo Martins

As the UEFA Champions league knock out Round resumed at the last 16 stages there are very special and mouth watering clashes which have already gotten fans, Coaches and the media attention with massive expectations and mind bugling outcome.

Games such as PSG Vs Chelsea, AS Roma Vs Spanish Giant Real Madrid and Arsenal Vs Barcelona have generated so much attention and talking points coupled with massive ticket already been sold out for these matches.
Nevertheless there are some Nigerians that still have a role to play in the competition as the knock out stages begins in earnestly. In the Group stages Nigerian players like Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow), Brown Ideye (Olympiakos) and Nosakhare Igiebor (Maccabi Tel Aviv) were eliminated but there are still some Nigerians to enroll in the UEFA Champions League. SoccerNet Nigeria highlights those players with their chances of progression as the stage is set for the big one.

The even present Chelsea loyal servant will likely feature once again in the knock out round against PSG (Paris Saint Germany) after he was part of the struggling Chelsea side that managed to navigate his way to the top of the group standing which consisted of Dynamo Kiev, FC Porto and Maccabi Tel Aviv. The midfield player will likely add to his 56 appearances in the Champions League all in Chelsea’s colour and stands a chance to leap frog legendary Nwankwo Kanu in terms of appearance in the competition as the former Arsenal star Kanu Nwankwo has 60 appearance to his name.

With the news that defensive midfield partner Nemanja Matic is suspended from the game and captain John Terry and Kurt Zouma is injured the midfield player is likely to be partnered at the base of Chelsea’s midfield with Spanish star Cesc Fabregas and the defensive midfielder Mikel Obi will have the larger work out of the two to keep the reshuffling Chelsea back four in shape and curtail imminent attack from PSG danger men in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edison Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi. The Performance of the duo (Mikel & Fabregas) in the deep zone will determine Chelsea chances against high flying French side PSG.

The young attacker who is a nephew to Austin Okocha might not be a key player here going into the round of 16 as they face a daunting task against Spanish giants and defending champions of the competition in FC Barcelona. Arsenal will be surely be counting and hoping that the attacking trio of Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil comes to the fray if they are to stand a chance of progressing in the competition. With the Gunners wanting to prove a point and write doubts wrong, it is expected that the young star may not feature in the game but the positivity for the young Nigerian is that he might have a chance to grace the bench which would be a massive one for the youngster’s development and psychological boost, standing the pressure of a likely appearance against favourite Barcelona. Nevertheless, Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger loves young talent and don’t be surprised if Iwobi makes an appearance and a possible positive contribution in the encounter.

The speedy Gent forward found his club side facing Wolfsburg in the knockout Round of the UEFA Champions league and a decent draw but an injury picked up over the weekend (Friday) might curtail his appearance in the first leg depending on the severity of the injury and the recovery period. The former AS Trencin of Slovakia hit man was forced to leave the pitch in the 28th minute of the game as his side defeated Belgium side Mouscron Peruwelz 2-0. He was particularly replaced with Mbark Boussoufa who scored the first goal in the 2-0 victory as the extent of the forward’s (Simon Moses, injury is not yet known, be it as it may be a potential return in the second leg may look likely and the Gent forward will surly be a big boost for his side young into the encounter as his pace and trickery will surely be a handful for opposing defenders and also the young lad’s knack for scoring goals. Simon recovery will surely aid Gent’s passage to the next round as the game is gradually getting set and intense.

The young forward who is full of promise as the day is going by will make his UEFA Champions League debut in the knockout stages for Man.City away to Ukraine giant Dynamo Kiev barring injuries. He was not a part of the group stage competition as he was not yet proven his worth then and there were several top players like Samir Nasri, Kevin De Bruyne and Bony Wilfred ahead of him in the pecking order but the man of the moment have elevated his credentials and thus earned a place in the revised Manchester City squad announced for the knockout stages following injury and uncertainty of the availability of Samir Nasri and Belgium Star Kevin De Bruyne.

With the recent hat trick against Aston Villa and a superb equalizer against Tottenham which ended at the roof of the net with precision expect the young lad to sparkle in the competition among City’s egg head like David Silva, Yaya Toure and Raheem Sterling as the tough test await the Noisy Neighbours in Ukraine.   


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