No fewer than nine Nigerian players will be involved in the second round of matches of the UEFA Champions League qualifiers following the opening draw of the 2016/17 campaign.
The draws which was held in Nyon on Monday, will see Efe Ambrose’s Celtic embark on a trip to either Estonian side Flora Tallinn or Lincoln of Gibraltar in the Champions League second qualifying round.
They will only discover their opponents on 5/6 July, once the winners of the first qualifying round tie are known. The first leg will be Brendan Rodgers’ first competitive fixture in charge of Celtic – away on 12/13 July, with the return leg on 19/20 July.
Celtic have lost in the final play-off round for the past two seasons.
Isreali Champions, Hapoel Be’er Sheva parading the Nigerian duo of John Ogu and Anthony Nwakeme start their campaign against Moldovan Champions FC Sheriff Tiraspol at home.
Blessing Eleke who finished the season in Slovenian with 14 goals for Champions Olimpija Ljubljana is expected to lead his team’s assault against Slovakian champions Trencín that parades three Nigerian internationals, Kingsley Madu, Rabiu Ibrahim and Samuel Kalu.
Nurudeen Orelesi and James Adeniyi who emerged champions of Albania with Skënderbeu for a sixth consecutive time were admitted back into the competition on provisional measures pending a CAS decision. The hearing is scheduled for 5/6 July 2016.
The Albanian champions were banned from all competitions for one year due to alleged match fixing. The seven-time Albanian champions who were alleged to have fixed three games last season, will face Hungarian side Ferencváros in the first leg of the tie in Tirana.
In the Europa League preliminary draws HJK Helsinki’s Nigerian trio of Taye Taiwo, Nnamdi Oduamadi and Paul Onovo will face Lithuanian side, FK Atlantas in the UEFA Europa League first round qualifying series.
HJK Helsinki who currently leads the Finnish League (Veikkausliiga) log on goal difference, will be away to FK Atlantas on the 30th of June with the return leg scheduled for the Sonera stadium a week later, it was announced in a draw held in Nyon on Monday.
Taiwo has scored six goals from 15 league games while Oduamadi has weighed in four from the same number of games.
HJK Helsinki will face either Beroe Stara Zagora from Bulgaria or FK Radnik Bijeljina from Bosnia and Herzegovina in the second qualifying round.
In Scotland, Juwon Oshaniwa is expected to feature for Hearts when they play Estonian outfit FC Infonet away in the first leg of Europa League first qualifying round tie.
Oshaniwa has been linked away from the four-time Scottish Champions, after spending one season in the SPL played 25 games last season.
Recall in 2012 Hearts lost at the Europa League play-off phase.
Also Nosa Igiebor’s Maccabi Tel Aviv will host Slovenian Nova Gorica in the first leg of the Europa League first qualifying round.