Nigeria vs Burundi, Saturday’s match for the Africa Cup of Nations, Group B, at the Alexandria Stadium in Alexandria, Egypt.
To advance to the last 16 is their minimum target in Egypt, despite reaching the final on July 19 and adding up their three previous titles will be the real goal.
Experienced boss Gernot Rohr, who has run four African teams in the last nine years, has assembled a talented group that looks capable of challenging players like Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Egypt.
The German coach has named eleven players under the age of 24, despite having experienced faces in Jon Obi Mikel, Kenneth Omeruo and Ahmed Musa.
Nigeria failed to impress during their friendly before the tournament as they drew 1-1 with Zimbabwe and lost 1-0 to Senegal last weekend.
A positive start against Burundi is therefore imperative for Rohr and his players.
Burundi is playing an important tournament for the first time after finishing above Gabon in qualifying, with 10 points in their six group games.
Swallows may be newcomers to the big stage but, as they have shown throughout the qualifying campaign, they cannot be eliminated when they tied at home and away with Gabon and did enough in the other games to finish second with Mali, the competition properly.
Olivier Niyungeko’s men have played seven games without defeat before, winning two draws against Gabon and Mali, in addition to maintaining Algeria.
These two sides will be facing each other for the first time in Saturday’s showdown at the Alexandria stadium.
Nigeria suffered a first loss in nine matches in their friendly final before the tournament, while Burundi also saw their unbeaten record end with a final loss to Tunisia.
A three-time continental champion, Nigeria, who failed to qualify for the last two editions of the tournament, is a strong favorite here and should do the job with minimal fuss.