Super Eagles Stars Crash Out Of 2022 UEFA Champions League Qualifiers
By Amaechi Agbo
No fewer than five Super Eagles stars have been eliminated from the prestigious UEFA Champions League due to commence from Group stage next month.
In the preliminary qualifiers decided on Tuesday, Nigerian internationals, Peter Olayinka, Paul Onuachu, Leon Balogun, Joe Aribo as well as Henry Onyekuru will all not play any role in the UEFA Champions League group stages which gets underway in September.
This is because the players along with their clubs failed to progress beyond the third qualifying round of the Europe’s continental league.
Paul Onuachu fired blank in Genk’s 2-1 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk. The Belgian club lost 4-2 on aggregate after they suffered a 2-1 defeat from the first leg.
The Nigerian striker was replaced in the 82nd minute by Joseph Paintsil. His compatriot, Cyriel Dessers, came on for Jhon Lucumi in the 68th minute.
Nigeria striker Peter Olayinka sustained an injury in Slavia Prague’s 1-0 win over Ferencvaros in Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League second leg of their third qualifying round fixture at the Sinobo Stadium on Tuesday.
Olayinka who was making his first start of the season – third of the campaign was replaced in the 16th minutes after he sustained a knock it was gathered
The result was however not enough to see Slavia Prague through to the playoffs as they lost 2-1 on aggregate.
Ferencvaros led 2-0 from the first leg thanks to an own goal from Taras Kacharaba and Ihor Kharatin’s penalty last Wednesday.
At the Ibrox stadium, Super Eagles duo Leon Balogun and Joe Aribo were handed starting berths in Glasgow Rangers clash against Malmo FF, who also had a Nigerian Innocent Bonke from start as well.
Bonke was however sent off just before half-time after receiving his second yellow card in six minutes.
Alfredo Morelos’ opener for Rangers in the 19th minute was canceled out by a second-half brace by Antonio-Mirko Colak.
Balogun endured a miserable night on his return to Rangers starting lineup as the Gers crashed out from the UCL qualifiers.
The Nigeria defender, who was handed his first start of the season, was caught out twice by Colak in the second half – as Rangers were eliminated 4-2 on aggregate.
The 33-year-old Super Eagles centre-back was turned far too easily by Colak before he fired in a stunner to level things up in the 53rd minute.
Four minutes later, Colak rounded Balogun and Joe Aribo before grabbing his second goal on the night to silence the 50,000 fans inside Ibrox stadium.
In Bulgaria, Henry Onyekuru was an unused substitute in Olympiakos l4-1 defeat on penalties to Ludogoret Razgrad after they forced the Bulgarians to a 2-2 draw after regulation time.
He is yet to make his debut for the club after sealing a four-year deal from Monaco.
This means Genk, Rangers, Slavia Prague and Olympiakos will drop to the Europe League playoffs, while FC Sheriff, PSV, Ferencvaros, Shakhtar Donetsk, Monaco, Benfica, Young Boys, Benfica, Dinamo Zagreb and Malmo advanced to the UCL playoffs.
The last six teams will qualify for the group stage of the Champions League.
The group stage will kick-off on 14/15 September with matchday 2 scheduled bro hold on 28/29 September.
Chelsea are the current defending Champions after they defeated fellow English Premiership side, Manchester City 1-0 on May 29, 2021.
Additional report by Punch