Super Eagles trio Victor Osimhen, Calvin Bassey and Zaidu Sanusi will learn their opponents for 2022/23 UEFA Champions League season on Thursday (today), PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
Last season, only three Nigeria internationals (Innocent Bonke, Samuel Chukwueze and Sanusi) took part in the tournament.
The draw of the competition this season will be held in Istanbul, which will host the final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in June 2023.
The trio are the only Eagles stars competing with their respective European teams in the prestigious club competition this season.
They will however hope to etch their names in the folklore of the competition like the trio Nwankwo Kanu, Finidi George and Mikel Obi who had got their hands on the famous trophy in the past.
Osimhen and Sanusi will make their second appearance in the tournament while Bassey is poised for his debut in the competition with Ajax.
Other Nigerians who will be featuring in the group stage of the competition include Fortune Bassey of Viktoria Plzen and RB Salzburg duo Samson Tijani and Bryan Okoh.
The duo Okoh and Bassey will be making their debut in the competition this season.
Bassey rejoined Viktoria Plzen in August following a loan spell at Ferencvaros and will be aiming to make his mark in the competition.
Okoh, 19, who was born to a Nigerian father and Congolese mother in Houston, Texas, has played for Switzerland’s youth teams. He is still eligible to play for four countries (USA, Nigeria, Congo and Switzerland).
Tijani on his part will be looking forward to make his second appearance in the competition this season after making his debut against Bayern in his side’s 7-1 rout in March.
The former Golden Eaglets midfielder replaced Mohamed Camara in the 67th minute of the encounter at the Allianz Arena.
The clubs taking part in the Champions League group stage will be drawn into four pots, with one club from each of the four pots making up a group.
Ajax and Porto are seeded in Pot 1 Real Madrid, Eintracht Frankfurt, Manchester City, PSG, AC Milan and Bayern Munich for the competition while Napoli is in Pot 3 with Borussia Dortmund, Salzburg, Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter, Napoli, Sporting CP and Bayer Leverkusen.
Ajax has won the UCL four times, Porto twice but Napoli are yet to lift the trophy.
Speaking on the decline of the number of Nigerian players in the competition, former Eagles striker said most of the Nigerian players don’t fit into the plans or tactics of these top European coaches.
“There are specific abilities expected from players and if you don’t fit in top coaches of big clubs won’t come for you. That does not mean you are not good but at the level, he wants you are not there yet.
Former Eagles assistant coach, Emmanuel Amuneke also added, “It is because we want a quick fix but it is a shame that is where we find ourselves.
“Things will get better like they used to be when we used to have more numbers in the competitions but we need to do the right thing to ensure the right things are done at the right time because that is very necessary.
“I believe that the three players in the competition this season will do well and show their class.”
The first group stage ties will take place on September 6 and 7, with the second round of matches poised for the following week.
This year’s group stage will take place in a condensed eight-week window instead of the usual 12, as players must be released to their national squads by November 13 in preparation for the World Cup which starts on November 20.