By Akinwale Kasali
The star gazers saw nothing else and it looked like the celestial power were guiding the football orbit in that direction. No one could have predicted that both Arsenal and Manchester City, best teams in England, would be knocked out so easily in the second round, with lowly rated Leicester City advancing.
No one gave the team a chance. Like the rejected stone that became the chief cornerstone. This can be said to be the lot of the Foxes of Leicester City Football Club of England, who against all odds proved bookmakers wrong by writing its name in the history book.
Many thought the end had come for the Foxes when it sacked its Italian coach, Claudio Raineri, just less than a year he won the coveted Barclays English Premier League Trophy. Despite its poor showing at the domestic front, Leicester kept on moving ahead like an unstoppable train in the money spinning UEFA Champions League.
To further show its readiness to take Europe by storm, it went ahead to top the group stage which had veteran UEFA Champion League team, FC Porto. When the odd seems not to favour them at the second round draw of the tournament, they still went ahead to advance into the quarter final with a 3-2 aggregate score line over Sevilla FC of Spain.
Craig Shakespeare, the acting coach of the Foxes could be following the footsteps of Roberto Di Matteo, who guided Chelsea to the 2012 UEFA Champions League triumph after succeeding his boss, Andre Villa Boas, who was sacked due to poor running in the domestic league.
Though, it’s still a long walk ahead for the team who still have the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Monaco, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund to contend with. But with the advancement of the team, who is presently hoisting English flag at the tournament, no doubt, can be tagged the pride of England.
The quarter-final pairings are determined by an open draw in which no teams are seeded and clubs from the same national association can be drawn against each other. The side drawn first will play the first leg at home.
The first legs will be on Tuesday 11 and Wednesday 12 April, with the returns on 18 and 19 April.
Road to Cardiff
Quarter-finals: 11/12 & 18/19 April
Semi-final draw: 21 April
Semi-finals: 2/3 & 9/10 May
Final: Saturday 3 June, National Stadium of Wales