Burundi is taking part in this competition for the very first time, and against better judgment, will have high hopes for their debut campaign. They have a tough obstacle to deal with in their opener itself, in previous champions Nigeria.
The inexperience of the former in major tournaments, as well as against this opposition, might cause them some trouble.
Their preparation seems to be in tatters, as all they could return from their last 15 games is just two wins. Both these victories came against minnows – South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Their last match saw them losing to Tunisia in a friendly international. The squad did have a draw in sights, even into the injury time, until the winner came in the 90+3rd minute to negate the hard work of the players.
Opponents Nigeria boasts of some crucial players, one being Alex Iwobi, of Premier League giants, Arsenal. The winger, coupled with sensation Ahmed Musa could run havoc against the under-confident backline on the latter half of the field.
The Super Eagles were on an eight-match unbeaten run before it came to an end against high-flying Senegal. While a loss is definitely disheartening, the fact that the top dog of this tournament was limited to a single goal is surely something to be proud of.
With Madagascar and Guinea comprising the other two sides in this group, Nigeria does have the chance to end up the topper, and it’s important that they begin with a win.
Nigeria had recorded eight unbeaten matches in a row, before it came to an end just the last day, with the narrowest of margins. They have even more to be hopeful, if the players are able to replicate their form in the world cup, where they defeated Euro Cup Quarter Finalists, Iceland, and almost gave the boot to one of the favorites, Argentina.
On the other hand, we have Burundi who has practically no experience in highly competitive international ties and pales in comparison in that regards to their counterparts of this fixture. Taking part in the Cup of Nations for the first time, the opener against a previous champion should be one of the harshest beginnings that could have been allotted.
Also, the squad was winless in ten of their last eleven fixtures, and in 13 of their last 15. They have also not been able to keep a clean sheet in their last five battles and will face huge odds as underdogs this weekend.
Prediction: Nigeria to win 4-0.