The two group winners and two best third-place finishers will play in the quarter-finals
U20 Cecafa Championship winners Uganda have been pooled in Group A of the Africa U20 Cup of Nations.
The Hippos will have to battle for a quarter-final berth with hosts Mauritania, Central African heavyweights Cameroon and Mozambique.
Tanzania, who lost the Cecafa finals to Uganda, have been placed in a tough Group C that features Ghana, Gambia and Morocco while Group B has Burkina Faso, Tunisia, Namibia, and the Central African Republic.
The two winners from each group will be guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals of the biennial competition alongside the two best third-place finishers from any of the two groups.
Mali are the defending champions after beating Senegal 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in regular time. However, none of the two nations will be in Mauritania for the competition which will take place from February 14 to March 4.
Nigeria are the most successful team having won the title a record seven times. The competition was founded in 1979 to help introduce African youth to the competitive world. Four top teams from the competition will represent the continent in the 2021 Fifa World Cup to be held in Indonesia in the yet to be identified dates.
Uganda will be aiming at stamping its authority in continental football in youth football after dominating the East African region. On the road to Mauritania, they eliminated Kenya and Tanzania along the way.
They defeated the latter 4-1 in the finals held in Tanzania to seal their place in the finals.
The Hippos got the goals from Richard Basangwa, Steven Sserwada, Ivan Bogere, and Kenneth Semakule while the immediate former champions scored their only goal via Abdul Suleiman.
Kenya were defeated in the third-place playoffs by South Sudan when they went down 2-1.
It was the second loss the Rising Stars registered in the tournament after Uganda had beaten them 3-1 in the first semi-final.
South Sudan went ahead in the second minute courtesy of Phillip Biajo’s goal but Stanley Okumbi’s side fought and equalised in the 10th minute when Nicholas Ochieng found the back of the net.
Nelson Elia scored five minutes prior to the half-time break to give South Sudan the lead yet again and Rising Stars’ concerted efforts in the second half were not able to help them level matters.