Nigerian players have not only played in the Champions League but many have taken their accomplishments to the semi-final stages of the competition. Finidi George and Kanu Nwankwo of Ajax, and Mikel Obi of Chelsea are the only Nigerian diplomats to have lifted the trophy.
Sportjuice9ja makes a compilation of every Nigerian player who has reached the semi-final stage of the Champions League since its inception.
Finidi Gorge’s 41st Minute strike for Ajax against Bayern nudged Ajax to the final.
Obafemi Martins’s 83rd-minute goal for Inter neutralized Andriy Shevchenko’s strike.
Samuel Chukwueze’s startling 88th-minute strike sent yellow Submarines to their second Semifinal in their history.
Kanu Nwankwo and Finidi George(Ajax, 1994/95).
Both Nigerians were pivotal for Louis Van Ajax as they were the first Nigerians to reach this climax in the club competition. They both started in the first leg and second leg.
The game ended 0-0 in Germany and in Armstaderm, Ajax overcame Bayern to a 5-2 scoreline in which Finidi George scored in the 41st minute.
Ajax proceeded to the final and won it against AC Milan in Austria.
Tijani Babangida (Ajax, 1996/97).
Tijani Babangida also known as TJ is another Nigerian to have played in the semis of the Champions League. Although when he joined de Godenzonen Finidi George and Kanu had already left for other clubs. Tijani was not part of the Ajax side that lost at Amsterdam to Juventus, but he featured in the second leg. Ajax lost the tie 4-1 to Juventus and crashed out losing both legs to Juventus.
Victor Ipkeba (Monaco, 1997/98).
The iconic 24 Jersey of Monaco Victor Ipkeba was part of the Monaco side in the 1997/98 season squad. Ikpeba played in both legs against Juventus in the semi-final of the Champions League.
Monaco wrecked after losing to Juventus by 4-1 in Italy and had a one-goal lead of 3-2 in Stade Louis ii, Monaco, France.
Obafemi Martins (Inter, 2002/03).
Obafemi Martinsalwaysys referred to as “Obagoal” by fans, was the hero on this day in San Siro. The Nigerian forward neutralized Andriy Shevchenko’s goal in the 45+1 minutes during the second leg, and Obafemi scored in the 84th minute. Inter failed to qualify by away goal rule as they had played 0-0 against AC Milan in the first leg.
John Mikel Obi (Chelsea, 2007/08 and 2011/12).
The only Nigeria to have featured twice in the semi-final round of the Champions League is Mikel Obi with Chelsea. The former Nigeria Captain played twice in the final stages of the Champions League with Chelsea in 2007/08 and 2011/12 respectively.
He was an unused substitute in 2007/08 when Chelsea defeated Liverpool and lost to Manchester United in the final by penalties.
In 2011/12 Mikel played in both games against Barcelona, he was crucial for Roberto Di Matteo who guided the Chelsea side to the final and secure them their first-ever Champions League against sturdy Bayern Munich.
Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City, 2015/16).
Manuel Pellegrini’s City had Kelechi Iheanacho in the semi-finalist squad against Real Madrid. Kelechi was an unused substitute in the first leg at the Etihad Stadium where they had a barren draw. He featured in the second tie in the 69th minute but City lost the tie by a goal to nil In Spain to Los Blancos under the guidance of Zidane.
Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal, 2021/22).
The Nigerian striker lost his first-team role under Unai Emery after a long spell of injury. Chkwueze, who had already won the Europa League trophy with Unai Emery after the Yellow Submarines defeated Manchester United in a penalty shoot-out, made it to the semi-final of the Champions League last night.
They took to Germany a 1-0 advantage and fought ambitiously to a 1-1 draw in Germany. Chukwueze’s 88th-minute strike helped the Yellow Submarines neutralize Robert Lewandoski’s goal.
Villarreal qualified on 2-1 aggregate to the semi-final.
This is Villarreal’s second semi-final in their history, the first was in 2005/2006 against Arsenal when they lost to the London club.
Samuel Chukwueze’s Villarreal will play Liverpool in the Semifinal stage with the first leg to be held at Anfield on Wednesday, 27 April 2022 with the second tie to be held in Spain on the 3rd of May, 2022.
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