After the highs and lows of the midweek games in the Champions League, depending on which club you retain affinity for, actions resume in the major leagues across Europe. And expectedly, several Nigerian players will be in the thick of events, chasing honours, targeting continental qualifications or attempting to avoid relegations with their various teams, as the case may be.
Victor Moses is still sidelined due to injury while Victor Anichebe, Kelechi Iheanacho and John Obi Mikel are expected to continue to play bit part roles as their clubs go after their season’s objectives.
Soccernet Nigeria focuses the light on the Nigerian stars considered key to their respective club’s ambitions.
England, Premier League
Odion Ighalo, Sunderland vs Watford
The 26 year-old Nigerian striker has been involved in 11 goals (9 goals and 2 assists) in 15 games already (more than any other Hornets player in the history of the competition) and will be confident of adding to that tally this weekend when Watford travel to Sunderland.
His deadly partnership with Troy Deeney upfront has yielded 42 league goals in 2015 (25 for Ighalo and 17 for Deeney), 10 more than Sunderland overall. Watford have enjoyed three away wins this campaign (a club record) and will look to the big Nigerian to help them continue that impressive form this weekend.
Osaze Odemwiengie, West Ham vs. Stoke City
The Nigerian international has been included in the Match Day squad by manager Mark Hughes against the 7th-placed Londoners and will expect to play some part as he continues to pick up game time after recovering from an injury that kept him out of action for several weeks.
Forwards Afellay, Shaqiri, Bojan and Arnautovic were incredible in the 2-0 defeat of Manchester City last weekend and Mark Hughes is expected to keep faith with the same players that made the former champions look so ordinary. However, Osaze retains the confidence of the gaffer and will play a part at some point has Stoke seek West Ham’s scalp.
Italy, Serie A
Ogenyi Onazi, Lazio vs Sampdoria
Lazio host Sampdoria in a late kick off on Monday hoping to bounce back after a clumsy 0-2 loss at home to defending champions Juventus in their last Serie A encounter. Onazi has only featured in five of Lazio’s fifteen games in the league but he has been ever present in Europe for the capital club, appearing six times, scoring a goal and helping them secure qualification to the knock out stages of the Europa League.
12th-placed Lazio will need the battling qualities of Ogenyi Onazi to overcome 14th-placed Sampdoria who are riding high and a mere three points adrift their hosts.
France, Ligue 1
Vincent Enyeama, Lille vs Lorient
On Saturday by 2pm, Vincent Enyeama’s Lille square up against FC Lorient in search of their fifth league win in 17 games. Now aged 33, the retired Nigerian goalkeeper has made 14 appearances and would have made more but for a red card he picked up earlier in the season.
Lille are currently placed 13th in the league but have the third-best defence in Ligue 1 and are a whooping 25-points off top spot because of a stale attack that has only managed 11 goals all season, the worst in the top division aside bottom-placed Troyes.
Belgium, Jupiler League
Imoh Ezekiel, RSC Anderlecht vs KV Oostende
The 22 year-old Nigerian, who was Belgian star man last year, is not having the best of times this season having only scored 2 goals in 15 league games and just the solitary strike in Europe.
He would however be focused on improving his stats when RSC Anderlecht entertain KV Oostende on Sunday. It’s a battle between third and fourth (Anderlecht have played a game less), with the home side knowing a win will catapult them above the high-flying Oostende team that have secured more wins in the league than everyone else except Club Brugge.
Simon Moses, St. Truidense VV vs. KAA Gent
Champions League surprise package, KAA Gent return to league actions in an away tie with Truidense and will hope that the Nigerian repeat his successful midweek exploits.
Simon Moses, 20, was instrumental in the Belgian side 2-1 defeat of Zenit St Petersburg and progress to the knockout phase of Europe’s biggest club competition at the expense of traditional European power horses, Valencia and Lyon. The Nigerian midfielder assisted both goals.
KAA Gent are joint top of the Belgium Pro League having lost just once in 18 matches played so far.