The local Stallions of Burkina Faso come into this fixture hoping to cause an upset at the Yaounde Omnisport Stadium on Saturday.
Mali are one of two nations to qualify from the Western Zone A, after a 7-0 thumping of Guinea-Bissau and a 2-0 win over Mauritania in the final round of the qualifiers.
They are making their fourth appearance at this tournament and will aim to best their 2016 run, where they suffered a heartbreaking defeat to DR Congo in the finals.
After guiding Stade Malien to six Premiere Division successes, Nouhoum Diane was appointed head coach and tasked with leading Mali to their first ever CHAN title.
Burkina Faso travel to Cameroon as one of the underdogs, after qualifying by the skin of their teeth against Ghana, thanks to a 94th-minute strike from Stephane Pognongo.
Former Burkina Faso Under-17 head coach Seydou Zerbo is in charge of the local Stallions, who seek to progress from the group stage for the first time in the tournament's history.
They secured a 2-0 win against the Mena of Niger in a friendly fixture at the Yaounde Annex One Stadium, and this should serve as a momentum boost going into their Group A matches.
Mali form (all competitions): DWWWWW
Burkina Faso form (all competitions): DWWWDW
Stade Malien are the most dominant clubs in the Malian league, and Nouhoum Diane has invited quite a number of players from the Bamako-based outfit, including Djigui Diarra, Desse Sissoko and Mamaye Coulibaly, to name a few.
AS Real forward Moussa Kone is expected to spearhead the Eagles attack, after the 29-year-old bagged three goals in the qualifying stage.
Issaka Samake is also an exciting talent to look out for, as the 25-year-old defender is proven to be reliable at both ends of the pitch.
Stephane Pognongo was the hero at the qualifiers with his late strike against Ghana, and head coach Seydou Zerbo will still rely on the 30-year-old to lead his attack.
Mali possible starting lineup:
Diarra; Samake, Diarra, Sidibe, Ballo; Sissoko, Kyabou, Samabaly, Kanoute; Moussa Kone, Coulibaly
Burkina Faso possible starting lineup:
Sawadogo; Hien, Toure, Zoungrana, Zongo; Traore, Nikiema, Diane; Pognongo, Ouattara, Tiendrebeogo
We say: Mali 3-1 Burkina Faso
The Stallions of Burkina Faso are desperate to make the knockout stage this year, but they face a daunting task against a Mali side that scored nine and conceded one goal in two games in the qualifiers. Mali should be able to come out of this fixture with a win unscathed.