Nigeria begin their 2013 African Cup of Nations campaign against Burkina Faso on Monday knowing an opening win is essential for the confidence of a new side.
Stephen Keshi's men were drawn the unenviable task of sharing a group with defending champions Zambia; meaning: No slip-ups are permitted.
Burkina Faso are an unfancied side but have some electric players themselves, so it promises to be a good contest.
Read on for a full preview including the latest injury and team news.
Group: Group C, second game
When: 21 January, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Where: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Latest News: Nigeria
The Super Eagles are confident of winning this game despite being heavy favourites on paper, with forward Brown Ideye speaking favourably of his side's chances (via PunchNG.com):
Our first game is against Burkina Faso and we are looking forward to it with great expectations.
We will qualify from our group by God’s grace. We will respect them and get the job done through hard work.
Keshi's men yielded poor results throughout their warmup campaign and played their last two friendlies behind closed doors due to intense public pressure. The fans will be demanding a win.
Latest News: Burkina Faso
The Burkinabes were dealt a massive blow when doctors revealed FC Lorient forward Alain Traore is not fit to play in their first contest.
Factoring in the absence of defensive stalwart Charles Kabore due to suspension via yellow cards, and you can see why the Super Eagles might be feeling confident.
Speaking to SuperSport, FC Augsburg striker Aristide Bance refused to give up hope of an upset:
We have had intense preparations and now we are ready to face Nigeria and the rest.
It’s important that we win the first game. I am not saying it will be easy but we have a competitive squad to go all the way.
Nigeria's squad is star-studded, but Victor Moses might just be the pick of the bunch. They've got English Premier League experience in Joseph Yobo and John Obi Mikel, but they're not unlocking any stubborn defences.
Chelsea winger Moses has been in fine domestic form this season and is full of confidence—expect him to dazzle this tournament.
With Alain Traore out, Jonathan Pitroipa becomes Burkina Faso's go-to guy.
Nigeria are the strongest team in this group and will be expected to top it. The pressure on their shoulders is palpable, and if the Burkinabes had a fully fit squad I might be tempted to suggest a draw.
With key injuries for Paul Put to deal with, however, it looks like a day for the Super Eagles to relish.