Nigeria’s Super Eagles and their Zambian counterparts, the Chipolopolo or Copper Bullets, will go up head-to-head in the 2013 Afcon on Friday.
For both teams, it is a tie they must win to inject life back into their ongoing Africa Cup of Nations campaigns in South Africa after being held to draws by unfancied opponents in Group C.
Nigeria head coach, Stephen Keshi is under pressure to guide his troops to a win after an emergency meeting with the leadership of his nation’s FA this week.
Certainly Keshi will make changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Burkina Faso on Monday with Kenneth Omeruo likely to fill in at right-back for suspended Efe Ambrose.
Chelsea striker, Victor Moses could also be in line to make his Afcon debut after he missed out on the game against Burkina Faso owing to a knock in training.
Keshi, who has managed Mali and Togo to the Afcon in the past, even jettisoned celebrating his birthday after turning 51 on Wednesday to focus on the crucial tie against the Chipolopolo.
Just like their opponents, Zambia will seek to avoid the embarrassment of crashing out in the first round as defending champions after stunning the continent to emerge winners of the 2012.
The only worry for Zambia head coach, Herve Renard, is Chisamba Lungu who sat out in training this week after suffering a bruised leg.
Renard will continue to bank on Free State Stars goalkeeper, Kennedy Mweene as he comes face-to-face with Nigeria’s pacy frontmen.
The Frenchman could also thrust 19-year-old teenage midfielder, Mukuka Mulenga into this game to play alongside experienced captain Christopher Katongo and striking duo of Collins Mbesuma and Emmanuel Mayuka.
Both teams definitely have a score to settle as favourites to progress from their group due to the history of head-to-heads between them in the tournament.
The Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit will offer Nigeria the chance to inflict a first defeat on Zambia since they last lost in the 2010 Afcon quarterfinals via penalties and to the West Africans.
Head-to-head Nigeria v Zambia
Oct 10, 1973: Zambia 5-1 Nigeria (1974 Afcon Qualifying)
Nov 11, 1973: Nigeria 2-3 Zambia (1974 Afcon Qualifying)
March 10, 1978: Zambia 0-0 Nigeria (1978 Afcon First Round, Accra)
July 28, 1981: Zambia 3-0 Nigeria (Friendly)
March 13, 1982: Zambia 3-0 Nigeria (Afcon First Round, Benghazi)
Aug 10, 1985: Nigeria 0-0 Zambia (Afcon Qualifying)
Aug 18, 1985: Zambia 1-0 Nigeria (Afcon Qualifying)
March 12, 1990: Nigeria 2-0 Zambia (Afcon Semifinals, Annaba)
April 10, 1994: Nigeria 2-1 Zambia (Afcon Final, Tunis)
Dec 15, 1997: Zambia 2-0 Nigeria (Friendly)
Dec 17, 1997: Zambia 0-0 Nigeria (Friendly)
Jan 13, 2001: Nigeria 1-0 Zambia (Afcon Qualifying, Lagos)
March 24, 2001: Zambia 1-1 Nigeria (Afcon Qualifying, Chingola)
Jan 1, 2010: Nigeria 0-0 Zambia (Friendly, Durban)
Jan 25, 2010: Nigeria 5-4 pens Zambia (Afcon Quarterfinals, Lubango)
Nov 15, 2011: Nigeria 2-0 Zambia (Friendly, Kaduna)