A Super Eagle take on the Champions League draw

Published on: 09 October 2020
A Super Eagle take on the Champions League draw
Zaidu Sanusi

The Champions League is the biggest club competition in world football and the group stage draw has now been completed.

Here we look at what it means for some of Nigerian overseas talent.

A tough task for Midtjylland

It's a harsh assessment but it looks like being a short taste of Europe's premier competition for Frank Onyeka. The 22-year-old is one of the first names on the team sheet for Danish side Midtyjlland and played every minute of their qualifying campaign chipping in with a goal and assist.

Tougher challenges await though and given his role as the midfield enforcer he might be a busy man with Liverpool, Atalanta and Ajax the teams in group D.

Considering that trio have all made the latter stages in the last two years, they'll be expected to make up the top three - probably in the written order. That will mean elimination for Onyeka but the learning curve could well help him win his first international caps after his first call up last month failed to see him make it onto the grass.

Dennis facing another first round exit

It's true, none of the sides awaiting Emmanuel Dennis in group F are the absolute powerhouses of the Champions League. What they are though is three decent sides with varying degrees of quality.

Borussia Dortmund arguably have the most exciting young squad in the world with Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, Gio Reyna and Jude Bellingham in their ranks whilst Lazio will be delighted with the draw and fully expecting to seal one of the two qualifying spots.

That leaves Zenit St Petersburg, who are no mugs. That said, Club Brugge are no pushovers either. Dennis himself has a decent record in the Champions League proper with a goal contribution every 212 minutes (two goals and an assist) and he'll hope to add to that tally this time round.

Even if he does, it's unlikely to see Brugge through but with the rub of the green they could sneak third ahead of Zenit, which would see them enter the Europa League. That would still be a good platform for Dennis to state his case for a third Nigerian call up.

Ighalo and Okechukwu to face off

It's probably fair to say that Istanbul Basaksehir would have been facing an uphill battle to make it through the group stages regardless of how the draw went. The fact that there are now questions being asked whether or not Odion Ighalo's Manchester United might be heading for an early exit from the same group should suggest exactly what that means for Azubuike Okechukwu and co.

They've landed in the group of death with last season's runners up, Paris Saint Germain, and German outfit RB Leipzig completing group H.

For Basaksehir the betting odds will tell you that they will do well to register a single win. It will, however, be an exceptional experience for the 23-year-old one-cap international midfielder. Ighalo, who is at the other end of his career, will be hoping that the Red Devils can avoid elimination at the first hurdle. Realistically, you'd fancy PSG to top the group meaning it will be United and Leipzig battling for second place.

Half a chance for Sanusi and co

Zaidu Sanusi, who was born in Kebbi, has spent his entire professional career in Portugal where he has developed into a versatile and capable defender. The 23-year-old predominantly plays at left back and impressed last season as Santa Clara finished ninth in Liga NOS. His performances earned him a move to Portuguese giants Porto hence he'll now be hoping to feature in the Champions League.

The season is young but Sanusi has already featured for 30 minutes across two substitute appearances but much of that is down to Alex Telles, who is Porto's first choice on the left-hand side of defence. Telles though has been tipped to leave and that would see Sanusi get much more exposure.

Matches against Manchester City will be a stern test for Porto but with Marseille and Olympiakos also in the group they'll definitely fancy their chances of making the knockout stage.

There you have it, which Super Eagle do you expect to soar highest?