With the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 as well as the Europa League Round of 32 draws now concluded, the road-map to glory as it were for the African stars still in the mix is a little nit now clearer.
Indeed, the chances of African players having a taste of Euro glory this season looks bright to say the least as the continent still has fair representation in both the UEFA Champions League as well as the second-tier Europa League.
366football.com will be highlighting some Africans in the UEFA Champions League and in the Europa League with realistic chances of ending up in the winning side when the final of the Euro club contests goes down in Milan and Basel respectively next year.
Mehdi Benatia (Bayern Munich): Bayern Munich are indisputably one of the firm favourites to win the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League.
The Bavarians who were stopped in the semi finals last season have showed intent this time around that they have what it takes to claim top prize yet again.
Coach Pep Guardiola’s men have churned out awesome displays both on the domestic scene as well in Europe and on their strong squad is a Moroccan defender, Mehdi Benatia in his own little way has contributed to the successes of his team thus far.
Yaya Toure & Wilfred Bony (Manchester City):
The Ivorian duo of Toure and Bony has been key to the Citizens’ campaign in Europe this season.
Having consciously worked hard to finish tops in their group, Man City have been rewarded with a fixture (Dynamo Kiev) which many believe the should overcome to break their long Round of 16 jinx Though seen as outsiders, it is not impossible to see Citizens shocking everybody to end up like their neighbours who already have three UCL titles in trophy cabinet.
John Obi Mikel & Baba Rahman (Chelsea): It has been a poor year for the Blues on the domestic scene so bad that they have relegation staring at them in the EPL. However, inexplicably Jose Mourinho’s side have so far gotten their foot right in Europe where they even ended as top team in their Group. Now placed against familiar foes PSG, the Blues will hope they can sneak past the ambitious French team and continue their fumbling and bumbling to the finals. If this happens, it will be joy for Mikel who already has one Champions League winners’ medal and for his African compatriot, Baba Rahman.
Aside the aforementioned players, there are still a handful of others sill hunting for glory in the Champions League like Moses Simon with Gent, Kwandoh Asamoah at Juventus are
Aubameyang leading African challenge in the Europa League
Gabonese forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is arguably Africa’s biggest face in the Europa League and the in-form striker will be gunning for honours with his German outfit Borussia Dortmund. After the shock home loss in their final outing in the group phase, it is expected that Aubameyang and his teammates will be more careful in their subsequent outings if they are to go as far as the finals in Basel.
Other Africans hoping to toe lines of Nigerian defender Taribo West who is the first player from the continent to lift the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League include compatriot Ogenyi Onazi who is in the Lazio team pitched against Turkish giants Galatasary who also have African faces.
From Marseille to Midtjylland and even Olympiacos where Brown Ideye leads the attack, Africans dot the teams that are left in the Europa League.
It is in this light many conclude that having an African player in the winning team for this season’s Europa contest is a huge possibility.