Home-based Eagles begin CHAN quest against Rwanda

Salisu Yusuf & Ikechukwu Ezenwa of Nigeria Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Nigeria begin their battle for a first African Nations Championship (CHAN) title with an opening group C game against Rwanda in Tangier on Monday.

The present team are managed by coach Salisu Yusuf, and will aim to better the record of their predecessors who exited at the group-stage two years ago.

The Eagles are making a third successive tournament appearance, but worryingly haven't had the best of preparations ahead of the championship, with observers writing off their title aspirations.

Opponents, Rwanda, coached by Antoine Hey, are also participating for a third time at the tournament. They were the last nation to secure their ticket to the three-week competition following an aggregate win against Ethiopia in November 2017. But the Amavubi have never won in four previous encounters against the Super Eagles.

Anthony Okpotu; who shoulders the lion share of the goal scoring responsibility for the Eagles, is optimistic of a winning start by Nigeria at the competition.

"We want to start the competition on a good note, which is winning our first game against Rwanda," the poacher told goal.com.

"We won't promise anybody that we are gunning for the title. We will like to go with modest expectations so that we do not put ourselves under pressure."

Yusuf hinted in the goalless pre-tournament friendly against Cameroon on Wednesday, that he may leave out Stephen Eze -- one of five players to feature for Nigeria at this level -- for their CHAN opener.

But for a team dominated by breakout stars from the last league season, they will need the experience and guidance of notably Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Rabiu Ali, to negotiate what promises to be a physical encounter against the East Africans.

Possible Nigeria line-up (formation: 4-2-3-1)

Ikechukwu Ezenwa -Osas Okoro, Kalu Okagbue, Abdullahi Musa, Daniel James-Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Emeka Atuloma- Peter Eneji, Rabiu Ali, Okechukwu Gabriel-Anthony Okpotu

Formation: 4-2-3-1