Onyedika: Super Eagles midfielder wins Belgian league with Club Brugge

Nigeria midfielder Raphael Onyedika has won a first league title in his professional career after Club Brugge were crowned champions of Belgium on Sunday. The Bruges-based side wrapped up the Championship following a hard-fought goalless draw against city rivals Cercle Brugge.

Onyedika played the full throttle and was instrumental in helping Club Brugge keep a clean sheet en route to sealing their sixth league title in the last nine seasons. The title race in the Belgian top flight stretched into the final day of the season with three teams still in contention to be crowned champions.

Club Brugge started the day on top of the table, with Union Saint Gilloise and Anderlecht both three points behind. While the title race was still open going into the last game of the Championship Round, Nicky Hayen’s side only needed a draw to win the league.

Club Brugge, therefore, went into Sunday’s game against Cercle Brugge desperate to avoid defeat. Hayen named a formidable line-up with Onyedika and Hugo Vetlesen sitting at the base of the midfield. The pair brought composure and calm to Cluge Brugge’s midfield and helped to recycle possession as the home side enjoyed the larger share of the possession.

Hayen’s side had the better chances and had three of their shots on target, but Cercle Brugge were equally threatening, having had a total of seven shots, although six of them were off target. While it was a close contest in terms of chance creation, neither side could find the back of the net as the game ended goalless.

Raphael Onyedika crowned Belgian champion 

Club Brugge’s title success marks the first time in Onyedika’s career that he has won a league title. The 23-year-old moved to Belgium two years ago after signing from Danish giants FC Midtjylland, where he spent two seasons.

While at Midtjylland, he impressed at the UEFA Youth League and was later farmed out on loan to lower-tier side FC Fredericia where he was voted into the Danish 1st Division team of the season. His spell with Midtjylland, however, did not yield any league titles (he won the Danish Cup, though) as the club finished second in the Superliga in 2020/21 and 2021/2022.

Having joined Club Brugge in August 2022, Onyedika once again fell short of winning the title when the club finished fourth in the Championship in his debut season. The Nigeria international’s hard work has, however, finally paid off after Club Brugge were crowned champions on Sunday.

Onyedika has been an important player for Hayen’s side, whose draw against Cercle Brugge meant they finished one point above rivals Union Saint Gilloise in the title race, and four ahead of Anderlecht. This comes after the club engineered a major comeback in the Championship round.

Club Brugge completed the regular season in fifth place and 19 points behind leaders Union Saint Gilloise. However, they rallied their way back into the title race in the six-team Championship play-offs, eventually being crowned champions after going unbeaten in the 10 matches they played. 

Is Raphael Onyedika set for a starting role for the Super Eagles?

Onyedika’s exploits at Club Brugge have been praised by his Super Eagles teammates, many of whom took to Instagram to congratulate him. Ademola Lookman, Stanley Nwabali, Frank Onyeka, and Victor Boniface all flooded his Instagram page to commend him for being crowned a Belgian champion.

Nigeria captain William Troost-Ekong, defender Kenneth Omeruo and Chidozie Awaziem also extended their congratulatory messages to the midfielder. Onyedika is part of Nigeria’s 23-man squad invited by head coach Finidi George for next month’s 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Benin.

The Super Eagles will face Bafana Bafana in Uyo on 7 June before taking on the Cheetahs on the road on 10 June, as they aim to salvage their qualification hopes after being winless in their opening two qualifying matches. Onyedika is one of six midfielders in George’s squad that was announced last week.

The Clug Brugge anchorman has enjoyed a very productive campaign, where he played 49 matches and contributed four goals and two assists. He therefore remains one of Nigeria’s most consistent midfielders in Europe, although he faces keen competition from Wilfred Ndidi and Frank Onyeka for a starting position in the Super Eagles team.

Ndidi missed the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024) in Ivory Coast through injury but is usually a mainstay in the team when he’s fit. Onyeka also deputised during the AFCON and made a claim for more starts following his impressive performances. Alex Iwobi is listed as a midfielder in Nigeria’s squad but it’s unlikely that he’ll be deployed in the same way that Jose Peseiro did after the Portuguese restricted him to a deeper role.

This increases Onyedika’s chances of starting against South Africa and Benin. The 23-year-old was handed a starting spot in the Super Eagles’ friendly against Mali in March, and although George’s side lost that game, Onyedika was one of the bright spots.

As to whether Finidi boss would trust him over his other midfield options for the crucial World Cup qualifiers remains to be seen, but Onyedika seems prepared to grab his chances after enjoying a successful season at club level.

Onyedika: Super Eagles midfielder wins Belgian league with Club Brugge
Emmanuel Ayamga

Emmanuel Ayamga is an Asante Kotoko fan and a passionate sports journalist with a little over five years of experience writing about African football.

His articles and features have been published in renowned news media like The Guardian, DW, Al Jazeera and Sportskeeda. His bylines can also be found in the UK journals World Soccer Magazine and These Football Times.