Nations fold after missing the boat last year, with an opening run-out against Burkina Faso on Monday.
No-nonsense coach Stephen Keshi knows what it takes to claim the continental showcase having been captain of the last Super Eagles’ team to go all the way in Tunis 19 years ago.
They beat Zambia 2-1 in the final then and come up against the Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) again in their second Group C game next Friday.
Keshi, who made a name for himself as a physically formidable centre-back, has spent the last few weeks fine-tuning his squad in Portugal.
Nigeria’s diet of warm-up friendlies harvested a mediocre set of results, with a 1-1 draw against a Barcelona-boosted Catalonia side, a goalless draw with fellow qualifiers Cape Verde, a 1-0 behind-closed-doors win over Dutch club Sparta Rotterdam and a 5-0 rout of a Portuguese second division outfit.
Keshi, who failed to get past the first round in previous stints with Togo and Mali, is happy with his squad’s commitment.
“It is good to see players working so hard to win places in my starting line-up. Such competition gives me a nice kind of headache.