With the first leg of the 2017 CAF Champions League final billed for Saturday at Alexandria’s Borg El-Arab Stadium, where Nigerian striker Junior Ajayi is expected to make his 12th appearance in the competition after scoring three goals, Completesportsnigeria.com’s JOHNNY EDWARD profiles four Nigerian players to have featured in the finals of the CAF Champions League with non-Nigerian clubs…
- William Okpara (Orlando Pirates)
The former Nigerian international goalkeeper joined South African club Orlando Pirates in 1993 and two years later he featured in every game in the 1995 CAF Champions Cup, making 10 starts and keeping six clean sheets.
In the 1995 CAF Champions League, formerly called CAF Champions Cup, Okpara conceded twice in the first leg of the final.
He was beaten by his compatriot John Zaki and Donald Sie but Okpara bounced back and played the game of his life in Abidjan as Orlando Pirates beat Asec Abidjan 1-0 to lift the title for the first and only time in their history with a 3-2 aggregate win.
Okpara still holds the record for the most appearances for the Pirates, 375, 12 years after retiring from football.
- Emmanuel Amuneke (Zamalek, 1993)
Amuneke was adjudged the best player in Africa in 1994 but it was not his brace against Zambia in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations that earned him that title but his exploits with Zamalek on the continent. Amuneke scored his spot kick as his Egyptian club Zamalek defeated Asante Kotoko 7-6 to win their third CAF Champions League title and become the third team to win the tournament three times after Hafia Football Club and Canon Yaoundé.
Amuneke later featured for Sporting Lisbon, Barcelona and Albacete while with the Super Eagles he played at two African Nations Cups in 1994 and 2000 winning the ultimate prize and finishing as runner-up.
- Austin Ejide, (Etoile du Sahel, 2003, 2004)
Ejide is unlucky not to have won the CAF Champions League during his spell with Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel. The Nigerian goalkeeper reached two CAF Champions League finals with Etoile du Sahel in 2004 and 2005 but lost to Enyimba and Al-Ahly.
The Tunisian side later won the coveted trophy in 2007, defeating Al-Ahly 3-1 when Ejide had left the club the previous year. He made over 120 appearances for Etoile du Sahel where he won the Tunisian League Cup.
- John Zaki (ASEC Abidjan, 1998)
The Nigerian forward featured for Ivorien side ASEC Mimosas in the final as they defeated Dynamos FC from Zimbabwe 4-2 on aggregate to clinch their first ever African title in 1998. He made seven appearances during the competition and scored four goals for ASEC. He came on as a late substitute for Tchiressoua Guel in the closing stages of the final.