The smart money is on Mali to open their campaign with victory overMalawi in Bamako.
With Algeria also in this group, the Malians know that dropping points against Malawi and Ethiopia could be suicidal.
“We are considered one of the favourites of the group, but I am 100% sure that there is no weak team in our group,” said Mali coach Henri Kasperczak.
Algeria , where they reached the second round before losing to Germany.
But the Desert Foxes will face Ethiopia under a new coach following the departure of the man who led them to the knockout stages in Brazil.
Vahid Halilhodzic left to pursue pastures new in Turkey and was replaced by Frenchman Christian Gourcuff.
The death of Cameroonian player Albert Ebosse in a league match last month has also cast a dark shadow across Algerian football.
Algeria are Africa’s number one team according to Fifa rankings but the performances of the Walya Antelopes at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2014 World Cup qualifiers suggest they are capable of putting the cat among the pigeons.
The Ethiopians have spent three weeks training in Brazil ahead of this weekend’s opener in Addis Ababa, the first competitive outing for their new Portuguese coach Mariano Barreto.
“They [Algeria] were one of the good sides at the World Cup. I know it’s not going to be an easy job for us,” Barreto told BBC Sport.
Read more at: BBC Sport