Nigerian stars set for titanic battles as UCL begins


By: Johnny Edward.

Four Nigerian players will be in action for their respective European teams as they seek to make winning starts to their Champions League group campaign on Tuesday (today), PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

The players are AC Milan winger Samuel Chukwueze the duo Al-Hassan Yusuf and Chidera Ejuke, who both star for Antwerp and Zaidu Sanusi of FC Porto.

Chukwueze is primed to make his 10th Champions League appearance when the Rossoneri take on Newcastle United at the San Siro in Group F.

Stefano Pioli’s side will aim to return to winning ways after their humiliating 5-1 derby defeat to arch-rivals Inter Milan last Saturday and according to Sky Sport Italia, the Italian coach will be making some changes to his starting lineup.

Chukwueze has been tipped to replace Christian Pulisic — who was underwhelming in the derby defeat — on the right flank, the report revealed, while Fikayo Tomori, who missed the derby, is expected to return to the starting line-eup.

Winger Chukwueze has made only four substitute appearances for Milan since his big-money move from Villarreal in the summer.

Also, the pair of Yusuf and Ejuke are both expected to make their debuts in the competition with Antwerp, when the Belgians travel to the Olympic stadium to face giants Barcelona in Group H in Spain.

Both players were part of the traveling squad to Spain on Monday.

Today’s contest will be historic for all of those involved with the club as the Reds, who won just their fifth Belgian First Division title last season, their first since 1957, are competing in the group stage of the competition for the first time in their history.

Coached by Mark van Bommel, who won the Champions League title with Barcelona as a player, Antwerp are unbeaten across six matches (four wins and two draws) but have an uphill task as they have lost all three away games against Spanish sides.

For Sanusi, he is expected to make his 25th appearance for FC Porto in the competition as the Portuguese side bid to make a perfect start against Shakhtar Donetsk in Hamburg, Germany in Group H.

Both teams are top of their domestic divisions this season, with Shakhtar leading the Ukrainian topflight on 17 points, while Porto sit at the head of the Primeira Liga table on 13 points.

Porto head into this fixture off the back of a 1-0 victory over Estrela on Friday, which moved them to 13 points from their first five league matches this season.