Manager, captain hope troubled Super Eagles star is ready for crunch Champions League tie

Europe’s premier club competition returns to the front burner on Tuesday, and one of Belgium’s representatives is wishing they can count on their out-of-sorts talisman

KRC Genk will need a firing Paul Onuachu to stand a chance against Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk when the two sides trade tackles in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round on Tuesday.

Shakhtar are the big favourites to proceed over the two legs as they are regulars in the competition’s group stages. The miners have made it to the group stage in each of the last four seasons.

It has not been so rosy for Genk on that front, though, with the Smurfs needing Paul Onuachu’s 33 league goals to finish runners-up to champions Club Brugge last term.

But with rumours of a summer transfer to one of Europe’s more prestigious leagues hovering around him, Onuachu has not been able to rediscover his scoring touch for Genk during the preseason and the early days of the Belgian Pro League.

Coincidentally, Genk has not won any of their two league matches this term, including a disappointing home loss to Oostende at the weekend.

However, Genk manager John van den Brom says his top striker has trained well ahead of the all-important game. 

“Paul has trained well in recent days,” said John van den Brom at his press conference. 

“He is available, he is in the selection, but whether he will also appear at kick-off, you will only see tomorrow.”

Top scorer for Genk last term, Onuachu, has not been able to secure his dream move abroad because of the club’s massive transfer fee of around 30 million euros slammed on his head.

However, Genk’s captain Bryan Heynen is hoping the troubled Super Eagles forward can put aside his troubles and help Racing against the foe from Ukraine.

Heynen said: “Paul is very important to us. We saw that last season. We need the very best Onuachu.” 

If Genk makes it past Shakhtar in the third round, they will face the winner of the clash between Sparta Prague and AS Monaco in the play-offs.

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