Vanguard (Lagos)

25 March 2012

Nigeria: Heineken Fans Look Up to Barca-Madrid Final

With the path to the UEFA Champions League final in Munich already decided, after the draw ceremony of the quarter and semi finals last weekend, fans at the Heineken Champions Planet are assured of exciting moments through to the final in May.

Although there is a momentary break of action this week but for the blazers, the fixtures for latter stages could not have turned out better. The fans are set for the course that the competition's organisers wanted all along: Real Madrid versus FC Barcelona in the final in Munich on May 19, if both teams, arguably the best clubs in the world today, clear all the hurdles before them in the quarter and semi final stages .

However, looking back at the previous 16 nights of the second round knockout stage at the Heineken Champions Planet, the heroic super come-back of Chelsea against Napoli stands out as the most memorable moment. It also secured the title of the only English presence in the competition.

The Chelsea - Napoli encounter was also the longest night at the Heineken Champions Planet and the only night of mandatory extra time after a deadlock of 4-4 at full time.

The great rivalry among the Heineken Champions Planet's visitors and their loyalty to top English Premiership clubs has been a visible trend on match days. Depending on affinity, many fans tend to support the opposing club against the 'rival' club. But on the fateful night of Chelsea - Napoli match, it was the vociferous Chelsea supporters and passionate lovers of English Premiership League that laughed last.

With the exit of Arsenal the previous match day, the 'Blues' on the night of unrivalled high drama at Stamford Bridge secured a 4-1 win. Significantly, it was core member of the old guard: namely Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard that were on the score sheet on the same night former Super Eagles midfielder, Mutiu Adepoju. Adepoju became the latest football celebrity after Victor Ikpeba, Austin Okocha and Peter Rufai to share his best moments playing in the competition and for Nigeria.

Adepoju while sharing his experience recalled his brief stint with Real Madrid team B and the Super Eagles' big win against one of the tournament favourites, Spain at the France '98 World Cup.

Incidentally, Adepoju began scoring for Nigeria, barely a minute after Spain had taken the lead from a free kick situation.

"Shortly after the FIFA U-21 in Saudi 1989, I was signed to play with Real Madrid team B and played some matches at the Santiago Bernabue. I was later loaned to another club in the La Liga. With great knowledge of Spanish football, I was delighted to be part of the Super Eagles' famous 3-2 win against Spain at France '98 World Cup finals.

"I scored the equalizer at 1-1 from a set piece which we had mastered severally during training sessions. However, with Peter Rufai, Garba Lawal and myself playing in the La Liga, it was easy for me, and from my position I was able to nod in the equalizer and went on to win with that great goal from Sunday Oliseh," Adepoju recalled.

With the quarter final matches set to commence from next week, Heineken will continue to bring Heineken consuming fans much closer to the world's most prestigious club competition by live telecast of all the matches on terrestrial television.

All Heineken consumers in the country have the opportunity to be part of the exclusive experience at the Heineken Champions Planet. This is done through premium bars across the country where invitations as well as other high value gifts can be won. Consumers also have chances of winning items by answering quizzes on the Heineken Facebook page or during half-time of the live matches on AIT.

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