Osimhen, Bassey, Sanusi fly the flag of Nigeria

Super Eagles trio Victor Osimhen, Calvin Bassey and Zaidu Sanusi learn their opponents for the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League season on Thursday (today), PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

Last season, only three Nigerian internationals (Innocent Bonke, Samuel Chukwueze and Sanusi) participated in the tournament.

The competition draw will take place this season in Istanbul, where the final will take place at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in June 2023.

The trio are the only Eagles stars to compete in the prestigious club competition with their respective European teams this season.

However, they will hope to etch their name into the folklore of the competition, such as the trio of Nwankwo Kanu, Finidi George and Mikel Obi who held the famous trophy in the past.

Osimhen and Sanusi make their second appearance in the tournament as Bassey prepares for his debut in the league with Ajax.

Other Nigerians who will be performing in the group stage of the competition include Viktoria Plzen’s Fortune Bassey and the RB Salzburg duo of Samson Tijani and Bryan Okoh.

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The duo Okoh and Bassey will debut in the competition this season.

Bassey returned to Viktoria Plzen in August after a loan spell with Ferencvaros and will try to make his mark in the league.

Born to a Nigerian father and Congolese mother in Houston, Texas, Okoh, 19, played for Switzerland’s youth teams. He is still eligible to play for four countries (US, Nigeria, Congo and Switzerland).

Tijani, for his part, will look forward to his second appearance in the league this season after making his debut against Bayern in his side’s 7-1 defeat in March.

The former Golden Eaglets midfielder replaced Mohamed Camara in the 67th minute of the meeting at the Allianz Arena.

The clubs participating in the Champions League group stage will be divided into four pots, with one club from each of the four pots forming a group.

Ajax and Porto are 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.

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Ajax has won the UCL four times, Porto twice, but Napoli has yet to take home the trophy.

Speaking about the decline in the number of Nigerian players in the league, the former Eagles striker said most Nigerian players do not fit the plans or tactics of these top European coaches.

“Specific skills are expected of players and if you don’t fit in the top of big clubs, coaches from big clubs won’t come for you. That doesn’t mean you’re not good, but on the level, he wants you to not be there yet.

Former Eagles assistant coach Emmanuel Amuneke added: “It’s because we want a quick solution, but it’s a shame we’re there.

“Things will get better as they were when we had more numbers in the leagues, but we have to do the right thing to make sure the right things are done at the right time because that is very necessary.

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“I believe the three players in the league will do well this season and show their class.”

The first group stage matches will take place on September 6 and 7, with the second round of matches set for the following week.

This year’s group stage will take place in a shortened period of eight weeks instead of the usual 12, as players must be released to their national squads by November 13 in preparation for the World Cup starting on November 20.

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