The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations kicked off on Sunday spectacularly, with Cameroon backing up a beautiful opening ceremony with a solid, come-from-behind 2-1 win over Burkina Faso.
Nigeria will begin their Afcon challenge with a titanic clash against Egypt, the most successful nation at the championship, on Tuesday.
A fourth continental crown is the primary focus of the Super Eagles but below are a few Nigerian records that could be equalled or surpassed along the way.
1. Most individual goals stand at five
Super Eagles great Rashidi Yekini and Odion Ighalo hold the record of scoring five goals, the most by any Nigerian at a single tournament.
Having matched Yekini’s 1994 feat in the last edition, Ighalo is unlikely to return to have a go at surpassing it.
It could, however, be that the stage is set for any of Taiwo Awoniyi or Umar Sadiq to step up and imprint his name on the timeless pages of history.
2. First-ever game against Guinea-Bissau
January 19 will mark the first time that Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau will take to the football pitch to trade tackles on the international scene.
While three-time Afcon winners Super Eagles are a continental powerhouse, the Djurtus only made their Afcon debut in 2017. They also qualified for the last edition in Egypt; however, they did not make it past the group stages.
An intriguing encounter awaits when the two west African countries wrap up Group D proceedings with that fixture at the Roumde Adjia Stadium.
3. Eguavoen aiming for Keshi’s legacy
Nigerian legend Stephen Keshi is the only Nigerian to have won the Afcon title as both a player and a coach.
Interim boss Augustine Eguavoen was with Keshi in the Nigerian squad that lifted the Cup in 1994. Keshi then led the Super Eagles to victory in 2013.
And Eguavoen will look to draw inspiration from Keshi while hoping to match his late compatriot’s feat.
4. Nigeria’s biggest win at the Afcon
Joseph Yobo, Austin Okocha, and Osaze Odemwingie (twice) were on target as Nigeria inflicted a 4-0 defeat on South Africa in Monastir at Tunisia 2004 – the Super Eagles’ widest margin of victory at the Afcon.
A similar scoreline is not expected against fellow former champions Egypt, but anything can happen when the Eagles flex their muscles against inexperienced Sudan and lowly Guinea-Bissau.
5. Six tournament’s top goalscorer
Six Nigerians have previously emerged as the Afcon’s highest-scoring star, including Segun Odegbami (twice, 1978 and 1980), Rashidi Yekini (twice, 1992 and 1994), Julius Aghahowa (2002), Austin Okocha (2004), Emmanuel Emenike (2013), and Odion Ighalo (2019).
With Victor Osimhen and Ighalo absent, it could be the turn of Kelechi Iheanacho, Awoniyi, or even Sadiq to shine like a million stars and join the league of heroes.
6. No Nigerian player has ever scored a hat trick at the Afcon
None of the great names that have worn the green-and-white jersey has ever managed to score three times in a single match. It is about time that changed.
7. No Nigerian player has ever won the Afcon twice
Ahmed Musa and Kenneth Omeruo are the last surviving members of the Super Eagles’ glorious outing at South Africa 2013.
Another triumphant adventure in Cameroon will make the Fatih Karagumruk ace and the Leganes defender the first-ever Nigerians to claim two Afcon golds.