The appealing fixture at Baba Yara Stadium in central Ghanaian city Kumasi is a FIFA-recognised full international with caps awarded and the result counting toward the November world rankings
They are ineligible because the match is a final-round qualifier for the African Nations Championship (CHAN), which is restricted to footballers based in their country of birth.
The countries meet again next weekend in Abidjan and the overall winners will secure a place at the 16-nation tournament next January and February in Rwanda.
This means that every CHAN qualifying competition begins with teams full of footballers either barely known or completely unknown outside their country.
But when the whistle blows to conclude the final at Stade Amahoro in Kigali on February 7, some of these unknowns will have become well known across the continent.
A lucky few many even have agents or scouts dangling in front of them contract offers from European clubs -- the dream of virtually every African footballer.
CHAN is the brainchild of African Football Confederation (CAF) president Issa Hayatou -- the current acting FIFA president as Sepp Blatter serves a 90-day suspension due to his implication in a corruption scandal -- who worried that in countries whose national team is almost exclusively foreign based, local stars were getting no international exposure.
Ghana and Ivory Coast are good examples with national coaches Avram Grant of the Black Stars and Michel Dussuyer of the Elephants regularly relying exclusively on stars playing abroad.
Twelve first legs are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday and the Ghana-Ivory Coast game stands out as it features countries ranked third and second respectively in Africa.
Ghana have a much more impressive CHAN record than Ivory Coast, qualifying for all three previous tournaments and finishing runners-up to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009 and Libya last year.
Ivory Coast were eliminated after the group stage when they hosted the maiden tournament six years ago, made another first-round exit in 2011 and did not qualify for the most recent finals.
Other top-10 countries in action include Nigeria, at home to Burkina Faso in Port Harcourt, and Cameroon, who host Congo Brazzaville in Yaounde.
Fifth-ranked Senegal are away to Guinea in the region-based qualifying competition, while the Mali-Mauritania match-up is likely to attract wide attention.
Long time football whipping boys, Mauritania have improved considerably recently under French coach Corentin Martins.
Several of the team that shocked South Africa last month in a Cup of Nations qualifier are available for the Bamako game, including consistent goalscorer Boubacar Bagili.
Other fixtures include Uganda against Sudan in Kampala, Zambia versus Mozambique in Ndola and South Africa against Angola in Johannesburg.