Senegal begin their quest for a first-ever Africa Cup of Nations title by taking on Zimbabwe at the Kouekong Stadium on Monday.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe will be looking to upset the odds and open their continental campaign with a victory against more illustrious opponents.
Senegal suffered the disappointment of losing back to back finals when they fell to South Africa at the last hurdle of the COSAFA Cup.
Aliou Cisse’s men, who were also narrowly beaten by Algeria in the AFCON final three years ago, responded superbly once again by winning five of their six World Cup qualifiers to book a place in March’s playoffs.
In the meantime, the Lions of Teranga go in search of continental supremacy and will be looking to make a statement of intent in their opening fixture.
Standing in the way is an opposing side who have lost each of the three previous meetings between the teams by a combined score of 5-1.
The west Africans follows up Monday’s game with a clash versus Guinea in matchday two before rounding off the group stage against Malawi.
Off the back of 12 games without a victory, the start of the AFCON could not have come at a worse time for Zimbabwe.
However, Norman Mapeza did see his side play out a goalless draw versus Sudan on Sunday when they picked up their first clean sheet in six outings.
The Warriors now prepare for a baptism of fire against one of the competition’s favourites as they aim to avoid a third consecutive group-stage exit.
Both of the previous two tournaments kicked off on a losing note for the southern Africans who will need to be near-perfect to stand any chance of avoiding defeat in this one.
Senegal form (all competitions):
Zimbabwe form (all competitions):
We say: Senegal 2-0 Zimbabwe
Senegal boast a plethora of quality players all over the field and will fancy themselves to get the better of Zimbabwe. We expect them to get the job done in relatively comfortable fashion come the end of the 90 minutes.