Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi has spoken of his desire to see Nigeria return to African Cup of Nations finals with its next edition billed for Cameroon next year.
The Super Eagles have missed out on the two previous tournaments, with their last appearance coming in their successful 2013 campaign in South Africa.
Also, Ndidi – a World Cup campaigner who made his Super Eagles bow in 2015 – has never been to the continental spectacle.
However, with Gernot Rohr’s side sitting at the summit of Group E of the qualifying round, they stand a chance of making the 32-team party to Cameroon.
“We have a big opportunity to return to the Nations Cup and I believe the players can make it happen,” Ndidi told BBC Sport.
“The World Cup is gone and we’ve been winning games after Russia, and it is an extra motivation to prove that we learned from the mistake of missing the last two tournaments in Africa.
“It is my dream to play in Cameroon next year, my teammates share the same ambition and we have a big chance to make it happen now.”
After being caught out by South Africa in their Afcon qualifiers opener last year, Nigeria have returned strongly defeating Seychelles and Libya (twice) to lead the pack with nine points.
Ahead of a crucial reunion with second-placed Bafana Bafana next weekend, a few key members are out of the clash through injuries while the former Genk midfielder is suspended.
“We’ve suffered some setbacks but that is all part of the game, but I don’t think that is enough to stop us,” he continued.
“Injury and suspension should not prevent us, it’s been tough because other players at the club will tease you if you don’t play in big tournaments.
“For our careers, our country and fans we should be playing in the Nations Cup and we have to make it happen now.”