Nantes winger Moses Simon and compatriot Omonia goalkeeper Francis Uzoho have both faced tough groups in the UEFA Europa League, which kicks off next month on September 8, 2022.
The Europa League 2022/23 group stage draw took place in Istanbul, Turkey, on Friday with the final of the tournament scheduled for May 31, 2023.
Nantes will take on Greek giants Olympiacos, Freiburg and Azerbaijani professional football club Qarabağ FK in Group D.
Nantes qualified for UEL’s group stage after winning the French Cup in May, while Uzoho’s Omonoia recorded an overall 4-0 win over Ghent to take them through the play-offs to the group stage.
Simon, who played a key role in Nantes’ 2021/22 season, is aiming for his fourth trophy in Europe in the competition and will be crucial to any success the team achieves in the competition.
Meanwhile, Uzoho looks forward to his debut in the league and builds on his success in the 2021/22 season after Omonia won the Cypriot Cup on penalties in May.
Should Raphael Onyedika remain in Midtjylland despite exit links, the Nigerian midfielder will face Lazio, Feyenoord and Sturm Graz in Group F.
Manchester United were placed in the same group as Real Sociedad while Arsenal face PSV Eindhoven.
United, which won the Europa League in 2017, will also face Moldovan champions Sheriff Tiraspol and Omonia Nicosia of Cyprus in Group E.
Sheriff, the club from the breakaway Russian-speaking region of Transnistria that has won seven consecutive Moldovan league titles, famously defeated Real Madrid in the group stage of the Champions League last season.
Arsenal’s draw looks a little more difficult on paper, as they also face Norwegian champions Bodo/Glimt and Swiss title holders FC Zurich in Group A.
All three of the Gunners’ rivals failed to make it through the Champions League qualifying stage.
PSV, coached by Ruud van Nistelrooy, defeated Monaco in the third qualifying round of the Champions League, lost to Rangers in the play-offs and fell to the Europa League.
Elsewhere, Jose Mourinho’s Roma, who won the Europa Conference League last season, will face Spain’s Copa del Rey winners Real Betis in Group C, as well as Bulgarian champions Ludogorets and Finnish champions HJK Helsinki.
Monaco will take on Red Star Belgrade, Ferencvaros and Turkish champions Trabzonspor in Group H.
Dynamo Kyiv, who lost to Benfica in the Champions League play-offs, will face Rennes, Fenerbahce and AEK Larnaca from Cyprus in Group B.
The group stage starts on September 8 and ends on November 3, earlier than usual due to the World Cup in Qatar.
The Europa League 2022/23 is the 52nd edition of the competition.
It is the 14th season since it was rebranded from the UEFA Cup to the UEFA Europa League.
This season’s final will be played at the Puskás Aréna in Budapest, Hungary. It was originally planned that Budapest would host the final match before the 2021/22 UEFA Europa League, but several hosts have been postponed due to the delay and eventual rescheduling of the 2020 final due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The winners of the tournament automatically qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League 2023/24 and also earn the right to play against the winners of the UCL in the UEFA Super Cup 2023.