Morocco will launch their defence of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) title away to neighbours Algeria after the 2020 qualifying draw was confirmed Friday.
Hosts Morocco were impressive winners last year of a competition restricted to footballers playing in their country of birth, trouncing Nigeria 4-0 in the final.
Although third place in 2011 is the best finish achieved by Algeria, the country boasts one of the strongest national leagues in Africa and they are capable of troubling the trophy-holders.
Qualifying is regional to reduce travelling costs and the other tie in the North section pits two former champions, Tunisia and Libya, against each other.
Tunisia hammered Angola 3-0 in the 2011 final and Libya edged Ghana on penalties after a goalless draw in the following title decider three years later.
The other winners of a competition were the Democratic Republic of Congo, who triumphed in the maiden tournament in 2009 and again three years ago.
DR Congo start with a visit to the winners of a tie between Centre zone minnows the Central African Republic and Chad.
Nigeria tackle Benin or Togo in West B for a place in the 2020 finals while twice runners-up Ghana face Burkina Faso.
Kenya, who have never reached the finals, were paired with Burundi and, if successful, would tackle Tanzania or Sudan for a place among the finalists.
The 14-nation South section is always hotly contested and there is the prospect of attractive final round clashes between Angola and Zambia and Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Including Ethiopia, who qualify automatically as hosts, a record 48 of the 54 members of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will participate in the 2020 CHAN.
A notable omission are African powerhouses Egypt, who have entered only one of the five previous qualifying competitions, citing fixture congestion for their absence.
Gambia, Sierra Leona and Eritrea also did not enter and Djibouti and Gabon are serving suspensions after withdrawing from 2018 qualifiers.
CAF said they will announce later the dates for the three rounds of qualifying ahead of a 16-nation tournament slated for January and February next year.
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