African Nations Cup 2004 Group D
Nigeria's build-up has been, as always, haphazard, with 33 players missing from a 41-man training camp. There was also the will-he-won't-he saga over Bryan Robson being their coach. Robbo ended up at Bradford City.
Old guard veterans Sunday Oliseh and Finidi George will be missing and Obafemi Martins, Inter Milan's young forward, has opted out to concentrate on his club career.
The Nigerians do not look nearly as strong a side as that which lifted the Olympic title in 1996 and won this very title in 1994.
Defender Taribo West is also missing after a knee injury sustained in training camp.
Coach Coach Christian Chukwu does not have all the aces he would like in his hand and has had to call on lesser lights like Macclesfield Town's George Abbey.
Premiership stars Nwankwo Kanu and Yakubu Ayegbeni look likely to lead the attack with Okocha supplying the creativity for a side who only qualified after a controversial penalty saved them from a home loss to Angola in their final qualifier.
The acrobatic goal celebrations of Chelsea's Celestine Babayaro and Julius Aghahowa of Shakhtar Donetsk are a feature that the expectant Nigerian nation will want to see.
Babayaro has only recently ended a dispute with the Nigerian FA and has been a controversial selection for Chukwu.
There have also been questions over Okocha's participation after his fortune was lost in a bad investment in his homeland but he, and Arsenal's Kanu, hung on in England until after the first leg of the Carling Cup's semi-finals - another controversy overshadowing Nigeria's build-up.
Morocco, former winners in 1976, are best known on British shores for reaching the second round of the World Cup in 1986.
Coach Badou Zaki was the goalkeeping hero of that side and he has led something of a revolution in Moroccan football after succeeding Portugese coach Humberto Coelho in the summer of 2002.
A former player with Real Mallorca, the squad has been based on the sunshine island in preparation for the tournament.
Zaki's side were unbeaten in qualifying and didn't even concede a goal as they secured their 11th appearance at the championships.
Nourredine Naybet is the highest-profile player and the Deportivo defender will lead the team in what looks likely to be his international swansong. Most of the squad have European experience after Zaki undertook an extensive scouting mission through Europe to discover talent of Morrocan origin.
Former Coventry pair Youssef Chippo and Mustafa Hadji look to be yesterday's news though current Sky Blue Youssef Safri will play in midfield.
Spartak Moscow goalkeeper Abdelilah Bagui will be experiencing a different type of climate than he's used to at club level.
They, along with Quinton Fortune of Manchester United, will be huge misses from the line-up. Fortune fell out with Mashaba in April and has been out of the picture since.
So too Benni McCarthy, now at Porto, who went into international retirement after a similar dispute with the coach. The loss of these stars has caused outrage and all but sealed Mashaba's fate.
The South Africans will now have to rely on a largely home-based squad though Spurs prospect Mbulelo Mabizela will be in Tunisia. Ajax midfielder Steven Pienaar, one of the few remaining European-based stars prepared to turn be available, is out with a serious knee injury.
Mashaba's eventual removal came after a dispute over Preston forward George Koumantarakis, who was selected for the squad despite having missed ten months of football with injury. 'Shakes' was accused of not paying attention to the fortunes of his foreign-based stars and was first suspended and then sacked.
Legal action against the SAFA led to a further extension to a chaotic pre-tournament in which the former champions were beaten by Mauritius and Senegal.
The overturning of Mashaba's suspension by a court judge will not see him return but placed great pressure on his successor and former assistant Styles Phumo.
Coach Cecil Jones Attuquayefio is a controversial figure, having replaced Belgian Rene Taelman and then chosing to leave out three established stars in Amadou Mudachirou, Hugo Robard and Djilan Thomas. This move was met with outrage from the Benin press, especially as Mudachirou is the former national captain.
A knee injury has removed the last of these from the reckoning of Attuquayefio, for whom there seems little room for sentiment.
Recognised stars of the new line-up are Laurent D'Jaffo, once of Bury and Sheffield United but now without a club, Oumar Tchomogo, top scorer in the qualifiers and now with Guingamp in France's Ligue 1 and midfielder Moussa Latoundji, who plies his trade at Germany's Energie Cottbus.
Defender Anicet Adjamossi plays at Bordeaux while fellow backline man Damien Chrysostome plays at Serie B's Padova. Alain Gaspoz, who qualifies for Benin as a result of his mother's origin, has been a star of the Swiss league for some time but only started playing for Benin last year at age 32.
Little is expected from these serious underdogs.
Nigeria v Morocco (Monastir, 1300)
S Africa v Benin (Sfax, 1700)
Nigeria v S Africa (Monastir, 1300)
Morocco v Benin (Sfax, 1700)
Morocco v S Africa (Sousse, 1700)
Nigeria v Benin (Sfax, 1700)
All kick-offs shown as GMT