The Super Eagles play Mali's own Eagles in the first of the 2013 African Nations Cup semifinals, and both coach Stephen Keshi and captain Joseph Yobo are bracing for an exacting test.
"This is not going to be an easy game. Mali are very strong, very technical very tactical and we both play similar games, so it will be a very difficult game against them," Yobo said.
Keshi, who coached Mali for two years, leading them to the last African Nations Cup, insists that the squad deserve to be where they are.
"At least 85 percent of this team played under me and they are very good, very talented players. We know it will not be an easy game, so we have to work hard and stay focused if we want to win this game."
After the high of eliminating tournament favourites Cote d'Ivoire, Yobo says the Super Eagles are riding a crest of confidence
"There is confidence in the squad after the last result, and we hope that that confidence will help us when we play against this very difficult Mali team."