Last weekend, the Super Eagles finally brought joy to millions of Nigerians with their emphatic 6-1 demolition of the Lone Star of Liberia to qualify for the Nations Cup finals taking place in South Africa in January.
And Nigerians had every reason to celebrate, because the essence of the 'beautiful game' is goals and the Eagles delivered them in abundance at the UJ Esuene Stadium on Saturday. In fact it was the first time since July 24, 1993 when the Super Eagles defeated Ethiopia 6-1 in Lagos in which Peter Rufai even scored a penalty that Nigeria had won any competitive game by such a wide margin.
However, even in our moment of celebration (players and officials actually celebrated the win with vintage champagne), we should not lose sight of the fact that it is now that the real work begins.
Yes, we have surmounted the first major hurdle in qualifying for the continent's top competition for national teams (a task which the Eagles under Samson Siasia failed to achieve); but the next hurdle is ensuring that we don't go to South Africa just to make up the numbers!
And this more than qualification (after all if the truth must be told we were in a relatively easy group) is where the real hard work is.
During the week our past poor performances at the continent's top prize for national teams caught up with us when the Confederation of African Football (CAF) released its seeding for South Africa 2013 with the Super Eagles not placed in the top football countries on the continent.
Instead Nigeria was placed in Pot 2, which means that the Eagles could face any of the top seeded teams in the group stage - South Africa, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire and Zambia.
However, one plus here is that it is the top two teams that will progress to the next round so it is not mission impossible.
But if there was any need for a reminder for the Eagles to be prepared in the best possible way then this is it because even a worst case scenario of finishing second cannot be taken for granted in the wake of what happened during the qualifying series where tiny Cape Verde knocked out 'big' Cameroon.
So while being placed in the same group with hosts, South Africa would be the ideal draw for Nigeria, we can't underrate the other likely teams in the group.
Another thing that I will quickly like to point out here is that we (Nigerians) should not be heading to the competition believing that by just showing up in South Africa we will be leaving the 'rainbow nation' with the trophy.
I believe lowering our expectations would go a long way in not putting the Eagles under undue pressure to deliver.
Unfortunately as is often the case in the country our team handlers and football officials have started playing to the gallery by insisting that the Eagles are going to AFCON 2013 to win the trophy.
Of course when this does not materialise they always have ready made answers - 'the officiating was poor', 'we were unlucky', 'God was not on our side' and 'we'll prepare much better the next time' and so on.
Rather I feel that a semi-final placing should be a more realistic target with anything more than that being 'jara'.
This way I believe the Eagles will not be under undue pressure to deliver the trophy and end up falling short.
Besides our performance in South Africa will go a long way in showing us how ready (or otherwise) we are for the very important Brazil 2014 race which kicks off soon after South Africa 2013.
However, back to my main theme, one of the most important ways of preparing as we all know is by playing friendly matches. Next month's trip to the US to play Venezuela is not a bad thing, but I would love to see the Eagles playing more African nations and on the African continent - after all the Nations Cup is taking place in Africa and against African opposition.
I vividly remember in the run up to the 2000 Nations Cup finals jointly hosted by Nigeria and Ghana the Eagles were the cold of Europe preparing for a tournament taking place in the blazing heat of Africa!
Football Federation officials have shown their proactive thinking by quickly let it be known that the Eagles will be camping in Zimbabwe for the Nations Cup (lets hope it is true).
Smart one, at least Zimbabwe will have the same climatic conditions as South Africa around that time which will afford the Eagles proper acclimatisation.
One thing I hope the federation and technical crew are factoring in the build up equation is the usual 'club versus country' tussle that crops up in the December before the tournament kicks off in January.
This is especially true of the Premier League clubs, which usually have a hectic fixture list in December and are thus very reluctant to release their players for the African competition.
Luckily unlike previous tournaments when we had a lot of players in England we only have John Obi Mikel, Victor Moses and Osaze Odemwingie (who has so far been frozen out of the Eagles) and as such the technical crew will need to compensate for this when they are making their plans.
Another area which the coaching crew will have to look at is expanding the number of players available for the Eagles.
Luckily Keshi has said he was ready to throw his camp open to accommodate players that may be better than those he is already using.
This is very important because we all know that the late Samuel Okwaraji 'gate crashed' the Eagles party after showing up at a training session. I'm sure there are still a lot of 'Okwarajis' out there somewhere waiting to be discovered.
Getting more quality players can only enhance the overall performance of the Super Eagles as it will increase the competition, which will be good for Nigerian football.
While these suggestions are not exhaustive, and I'm sure there are some I've left out, this is just a guide for what I feel can help the Eagles possibly punch above their weight at South Africa 2013.
And least I forget, we should all pray to the 'god of soccer' ahead of next Wednesday's AFCON 2013 Draw in Durban, South Africa for fortune to smile our way.
Tell me, which fan would not want Nigeria to be in Group A with South Africa, Niger and Ethiopia!