Super Eagles of Nigeria - Favoured by records and statistics, the Super Eagles of Nigeria look set to return to limelight at the 2013 Orange African Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals which will run from 19 January to 10 February in South Africa. Nigeria, two time champions, will look to climb onto the podium this year after failing to qualify for the 2012 edition.
According to statistics from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) media outlet, 'Of the 16 participating teams, Nigeria have lifted the trophy twice (1980 and 1994), and were four times runner up, finishing third seven times.
On the whole, Nigeria has been to the podium 13 of the 16 times they reached the finals.
It was only in 1963 and 1982 (when they were eliminated in the first round) and in 2008 (ousted in the quarter final) that the Super Eagles did not make it to the podium.
For this year's tournament, Nigeria is paired in group C in which the Super Eagles is considered favourites to win the group.
Nigeria is joined by title holders Zambia, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia in that Group.
Coach Stephen 'Big Boss' Keshi, one of the pillars of the Nigerian golden squad of 1994, took over the reigns of the team as coach in 2011.
He earned the nickname 'Big Boss' while playing as central defender.
Having coached Togo and Mali, the 50-year-old Keshi is now handling the Super Eagles with mission to improve its image. He will exert his passion and the natural authority that his imposing personality exudes.
He said: 'I want passionate and committed players, players who are proud to play for their country.
'It is good to see players working hard to win slots in the starting 11. Such struggle gives birth to a healthy competition. Nobody has a guaranteed place in the team. They have to battle to have it and battle to preserve it .'
In the meantime, the coach has already sidelined two regulars -- attackers Obafemi Martins (Levante) and Peter Odemwingie (West Bromwich).
John Mikel Obi and Victor Moses who play together in Chelsea will be entrusted with the engine of the team, while Ikechukwu Uche (Villarreal) will play up front assisted by one or more Eastern European players like Emmanuel Emenike (Spartak Moscow), Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kiev) and Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow).
Captain Joseph Yobo, who will equal the record of Nwankwo Kanu by playing his sixth AFCON, will anchor the defence.
'We are going to South Africa to honour the colours of our country and we won’t leave any stone unturned in our aim to accomplish our objective,' the central defender assured, adding 'Fortunately, we are in harmony with our technical staff and I am sure that the players are ready to perform.'