Africa Cup of Nations record

Previous appearances in finals: (18) 1963, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2019

Best performance: Winners 1980, 1994, 2013

Drawn in Group D with Egypt, Guinea Bissau and Sudan.

Coach: Augustine Eguavoen

The former World Cup defender will serve as Nigeria’s coach only for the tournament in Cameroon after last month’s shock firing of Gernot Rohr.

He is the technical director of the Nigerian Football Federation and takes over the national team before the arrival of new coach Jose Peseiro, who will also be at the tournament but to observe only.

The 56-year-old Eguavoen had a brief previous spell as Nigeria caretaker coach in 2010.

Key player: Kelechi Iheanacho

Age: 25

Forward

The Leicester City striker has been thrust into the lead role for his country in Cameroon after Watford refused to release Emmanuel Dennis and Napoli goal ace Victor Osimhen was ruled out with COVID-19.

Iheanacho missed out on the last Cup of Nations finals but did play for Nigeria at the last World Cup and was also a regular in the 2022 qualifiers played between September and November, where Nigeria finished top of their group.

He also scored 12 Premier League goals and won the FA Cup with his club last season.

FIFA world ranking Dec. 2021: 36

How they qualified: Top placed team in Group L, ahead of Sierra Leone, Benin and Lesotho.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs), John Noble (Enyimba), Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam), Francis Uzoho (Omonia Nicosia)

Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino), Semi Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion), Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor), Jamilu Collins (Paderborn), Tyrone Ebuehi (Venezia), Olisa Ndah (Orlando Pirates), Kenneth Omeruo (Leganes), Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto), William Troost Ekong (Watford)

Midfielders: Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers), Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow), Alex Iwobi (Everton), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City), Kelechi Nwakali (Huesca), Frank Onyeka (Brentford)

Forwards: Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin), Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal), Odion Ighalo (Al Shabab), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City), Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk), Peter Olayinka (Slavia Prague), Henry Onyekuru (Olympiakos), Moses Simon (Nantes), Sadiq Umar (Almeria).