Nigeria will on Wednesday face hosts Senegal in the first semi-final of the U23 AFCON with a ticket to the Rio 2016 Olympic football event at stake.
The winners of this tie will qualify for the Rio Olympics and the final of U23 AFCON.
Both teams are not new to each other having met three times with a win each for them and a draw.
Their first meeting was at Abuja 2003 All Africa Games football event where Nigeria won 2-0 with goals from Emmanuel Izuagha and Emmanuel Okoduwa.
Senegal then took their pound of flesh at the first edition of CAF U23 AFCON in Morocco in 2011 with a 2-1 win.
Their third meeting was at 2015 All Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville in September, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
To reach the semi-final of U23 AFCON, Senegal won all their three games, while Nigeria were also unbeaten, posting a win and two draws.
The Nigeria defence, who let in four goals in three games, must be wary of the Senegalese attack led by Moumodou Habibou Diallo as they have scored six goals, while Nigeria strike force led by Junior Ajayi have a work harder to get the goals against a strong Senegal defence, who have let in only a goal in three games.
The crowd will be behind the home team, whose confidence has been on a high since they struck gold at the AAG in Congo earlier this year.
Samson Siasia’s team will be without suspended skipper Azubuike Okechukwu and winger Stanley Dimgba, who is nursing an ankle injury.
Senegal will also be sweating on attacking midfielder Sidy Sarr, who was forced out by injury in the final group match against Zambia.
Dream Team VI defender Chizoba Amaefule has assured the defenders have grown in confidence after keeping a clean sheet in their last group game against Algeria and he is confident Nigeria will beat favourites Senegal to reach the championship final.
“Keeping clean sheet against Algeria has boosted our confidence and morale,” he said.
“Everybody is working harder and ready to do more. The semi-final against Senegal is not going to an easy game, but it’s a game we must win to actualise our dream of coming here, which is to win the competition and qualify for the Olympics.
“I am ready for the game and my teammates are all ready to win the game.”
Kick–off time is 4pm Nigerian time at the Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium in Dakar.