It has been a long-held dream of the Super Eagles to match that record their West African rivals Ghana boast of in the Africa Cup of Nations.
In 2013, late former player and coach Stephen Keshie brought Africa’s most populous nation just a title short of Ghana’s four.
On Wednesday, February 7 at the Stade de La Paix in Bouaké, the Super Eagles will inch closer to equaling Ghana’s record.
Standing in their way will be the Bafana Bafana of South Africa, who won their one and only title in 1996, beating the Black Stars 3-0 in the semi-final of that tournament they hosted.
Nigeria began their campaign for a fourth continental trophy on quite a shaky note with a 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea.
However, given how the Nzalang Nacional turned up in Group A, later beating the hosts 4-0, gave the connoisseurs a good reason to revise their marks for the Super Eagles.
A penalty converted by William Troost-Ekong in their second game was enough to give Nigeria high hopes of making it out of their group.
They wrapped up the group stage with a 1-0 win over Guinea-Bissau.
The Round of 16 fixture with a weaker Cameroonian side gave the three-time champions the ticket to face hitherto minnows Angola, whom they beat 1-0.
Wednesday’s clash against South Africa will, therefore, be one of the toughest tests for the Super Eagles in the ongoing tourney.
The Bafana Bafana themselves started on a losing note when they were beaten 2-0 by Mali in Group E.
But they recovered strongly to beat an in-form Namibia side 4-0 before securing qualification to the Round of 16 with a goalless draw against Tunisia, the nation they beat on home soil for their only title.
In the Round of 16, the Boys proved title contenders when they saw off tournament favourites Morocco who were reduced to 10 men in the game.
South Africa then marched on to the quarter-finals, playing another goalless game after extra time against Cape Verde but goalkeeper Ronwen Williams rising to the occasion in the resultant penalty shoot-outs to send his team to the semi-finals for the first time since 2000.
A win will see them play in the final of the tournament for the first time since 1998, losing to Egypt in Burkina Faso.
Current coach Hugo Broos, who is not new to the AFCON title, having led Cameroon to win it in 2017, admits Nigeria are ahead of his charges.
“We are playing against a good team tomorrow, number 6 in the ranking, that means a lot for players playing for us,” the Belgian said at the pre-match presser.
“For many, Nigeria are the favorite to win but it’s not always the case in football, we are confident and motivated to try and ensure it doesn’t happen and South Africa will play in the final for the first time in 20 years,” he concluded.
His opposite number José Peseiro says the focus for his charges is to reach the final on Sunday.
“We’re in the semis, there’s great team spirit and commitment and we’re playing as a unit,” Peseiro told journalists.
“We have a huge game against a strong team in South Africa and we want to win to reach the final because that is our goal.”
Kick-off is at 1700GMT with Egyptian referee Amin Omar set to handle affairs.