The Europa League returns today with one of the four quarterfinal fixtures likely to feature four Nigerian footballer
Slavia Prague and Feyenoord will later on Thursday (today) faceoff in the first leg of the quarterfinals of the Europa Conference League at de Kuip in Rotterdam.
Four Nigerian stars could be on parade from kickoff, with Slavia boasting the trio of winger Peter Olayinka, midfielder Ubong Moses Ekpai, and youngster Yira Sor. At the same time, Feyenoord have Cyriel Dessers in their fold.
The Czech Republic champions and the Eredivisie side are no strangers, having met twice earlier in the campaign during the group stages, with Olayinka and Dessers making their marks.
Olayinka scored Slavia’s opener while Dessers grabbed both of Feyenoord’s goals as the two teams battle out a 2-2 draw at the Sinobo Stadium in November. Feyenoord won 2-1 in the first leg on home soil.
Sor, 21, only joined Slavia from Banik Ostrava in January, but his pace and eye for goal make him tailor-made for the European circuit.
The 36 Lion FC academy product already has five goals and two assists in four continental matches, scoring twice against Fenerbahce in the first knockout round and netting three of Slavia’s seven goals in the 7-5 aggregate win over Austria’s LASK Linz in the Round of 16.
Super Eagles winger Olayinka has added three Conference League goals and one assist to his side’s cause, and he could be a handful again for Feyenoord to handle.
And Czech football analyst Ondrej Zlámal expects the two Nigerian attackers to be among the key men for Slavia in the Netherlands.
“He (Sor) is fast and very dangerous in front of goal,” Zlámal told VoetbalPrimeur.
“It is not for nothing that he has already scored five times in his first three Conference League matches.
“Feyenoord should especially watch out for Sor. With Alexander Bah, Slavia has a right-back that Sor likes to support in the attack, as well as left midfielder Peter Olayinka.”
In Cyriel Dessers, Feyenoord have their own ace in the pack, with the former Heracles Almelo star contributing seven goals (6 goals, one assist) in eight Conference League games.
And with Slavia set to lose their first-choice centre-back pairing due to suspension, Dessers could have a stress-free day against the visitors’ makeshift defence.
Zlámal notes: “The Feyenoord team is the greatest danger for Slavia, but Dessers will undoubtedly receive more attention in the discussions of trainer Jindrich Trpisovský after his double blow.”
The 47,500-seater Stadion Feyenoord (De Kuip) will host the first leg of the encounter, while the return leg is scheduled for next week at the Sinobo Stadium in Prague.