The Super Eagles of Nigeria will today (Saturday) face newcomers Burundi in their opening match of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Alexandria, Egypt.
The three-time African champions, who are making a return to the competition after missing the last two editions, are seeking a fourth continental title.
“It’s a big occasion for the whole of Nigeria. We haven’t been part of the last two and after winning the trophy [in 2013] there’s also been a bit of disappointment at that,” Eagles defender, Leon Balogun told his club’s website.
Nigeria were drawn in Group B alongside two newcomers, Burundi and Madagascar, and also Guinea, with Nigeria considered favourites.
“Some people will look at our group and think it will be easy, but there’s no such games at tournaments like this one.
“Sometimes when you play teams who people consider to be underdogs you have your hardest matches,” added Balogun.
Speaking to the press in Egypt, the team Captain, John Mikel Obi said Eagles will go for gold as the tournament might be his last on the continental level.
The last time the AFCON was hosted in Egypt, Nigeria finished as second runners-up.
“It’s not a bad place to finish. I started here in 2006, and we came third,so Egypt has always been good to me. This time, hopefully, we can do better. I’m not 100% sure this is my last one but maybe,” said Mikel.
Saturday’s match will take place at the Alexandria Stadium by 6:00p.m Nigeria time.