The home side have been under pressure and Saturday's clash with the Cape Verde Islands, who eliminated Cameroon in the qualifiers, offers the prospect of a nervy start to the 16-nation, 32-match, three-week tournament.
Cape Verde are the smallest country to ever qualify for the finals.
"It's our dream that we all have to continue our hard work and progress in this game," said coach Lucio Antunes.
Angola and Morocco - the two other teams in Group A - will play in the second match of a double-header at Soccer City.
Both countries have changed coaches and altered the look of their squads 12 months after they bombed out at the first stage of the last tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
This Nations Cup is taking place a year after the last because the tournament dates are being changed from every even to every odd year.