Mauritania coach Corentin Martins is confident that they can spring a surprise when they take on hosts Morocco in the opening Group A match on Saturday.
‘Les Mourabitounes’ are making their second appearance at the Chan competition, having debuted in South Africa 2014, where they exited in the group stage.
On the other hand, the North Africans will be appearing for the third time at the continental tournament, having made their debut in 2014 in South Africa.
The Atlas Lions got as far the quarter-finals four years ago, topping Group B ahead of Zimbabwe, Uganda and Burkina Faso before losing a 4-3 thriller after extra time to Nigeria.
The last tournament in Rwanda in 2016 saw Morocco exit in the first round, as they finished behind Ivory Coast and hosts Rwanda in Group A.
This time around expectations are high for coach Jamal Sellami, with Morocco having enjoyed a wonderful 2017 which saw the senior national team secure a return to the World Cup finals for the first time since 1998, and Wydad Casablanca winning Caf Champions League.
However, Mauritania, who camped in Tunisia and Nouakchott to prepare for the competition, are not worried of the threats posed by Morocco.
Coach Martins has included highly-rated attackers Karamoko Traore, Ely Samba Ould Voulany and Moulaye Ahmed Khalil, but rising star Moctar Salem Belalmissed out from the squad.
Both teams have never met before in a competitive international match.
Morocco squad: Goalkeepers: Anas Zniti, Abdelali Mhamdi, Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti. Defenders: Mohamed Nahiri, Hamza Semmoumi, Jawad Yamiq, Marouane Hadhoudhi, Badr Banoune, Nayef Aguerd, Abdeljalil Jbira, Zakaria Hachimi. Midfielders: Yahia Jabrane, Mehdi Berrahma, Salaheddine Saidi, Walid El Karti, Abdelilah Hafidi, Badre Boulehroud. Forwards: Ayoub Nanah, Ayoub Kaabi, Achraf Bencharki, Ismail Haddad, Ahmed Hamoudane, Zakaria Hadraf.
Mauritania’s 23-man squad: Goalkeepers: Souleimane Brahim (FC Nouadhibou), Mohamed Salahdin Boubacar (Tevragh-Zeina FC), Namory Diaw (ASC Kaédi). Defenders: El Hacen Houeibib (AS Guard), Sidi Mohamed Bilal NGara (FC Tevragh-Zeina), Omar Mangane (FC Nouadhibou), Youba Zeindane (ASAC Concorde), El Mustapha Diaw (FC Tevragh-Zeina), Lemrabott El Hacen (FC Nouadhibou), Mohamed Wade (Nouadhibou FC), Demba Traoré (ACS Ksar).
Midfielders: Moussa Bagayoko (FC Tevragh-Zeina), Mohamed Dellah Yaly (ASC Tidjijka), Alassane Diop (FC Nouadhibou), Samba Moussa (FC Tevragh-Zeina), El Hacen Tegueddy (ASC Tidjikja), Abdoulaye Gaye Palaye (FC Nouadhibou). Forwards: Moulaye Ahmed Khalil ‘Bessam’ (FC Nouadhibou), Karamoko Traore (FC Tevragh-Zeina), Ely Samba El Voulany (FC Nouadhibou), Boubacar Baguidi (ACS Ksar), Hemoya Tanja (FC Tidjikja).