For Jonathan Akpoborie, former Super Eagles striker, the pessimism before Afcon 2013 has turned to hope springing eternal.
"I must confess that I was in no way optimistic when this team left for the Nations Cup.
"But I have been amazed at the turn around. I am very happy with the way things are now going and I hope to see the team beat Mali now to get to Saturday's final," Akpoborie told Goal.com.
He also explained what he believes has led to this fine transformation.
"Firstly, this team, especially against CIV showed the Nigerian spirit - that can do attitude.
" They showed passion but most importantly infused more urgency into their play in the attacking third of the pitch.
"The team just needs that level or higher and I am very sure that Mali will find them too hot to handle.
He also spoke highly of Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike.
"Victor [Moses] is one player that I expected a lot from and he has not dissapointed though I think he can still move up some gears. Emenike has also brought power and aggression into the forward line which has sown panic into the opposition defenders.
"I just hope that the boys will continue doing their job on the pitch and know that nothing has been won yet but it can be won," he concluded.