Former FIFA U17 World Cup winning captain Kelechi Nwakali will be stand-in captain at the third Africa U23 Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Nwakali will be expected to supply the ammunition from the midfield for the strikers, including his former U17 teammate, Orji Okwonkwo, to make hay at the fore.
The Nigeria team is brimming with hard workers such as defenders Valentine Ozornwafor, Olisah Ndah, Sincere Seth and Anthony Izuchukwu, and midfielders Sunusi Ibrahim, Muyiwa Olabiran and Ndifreke Effiong.
England-based Tom Dele-Bashiru, who starred for the Nigeria U20 team at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland this year summer, will be expected to provide some top competition experience and steel in the middle.
Host nation Egypt will tackle Mali in Friday’s tournament opening match at the Cairo International Stadium from 4pm (3pm Nigeria time), before the two other Group teams Cameroon and Ghana clash at the same venue as from 6pm Nigeria time.