But record seven-time champions Egypt won 1-0 in Port-Gentil to top the final standings with seven points and Ghana also progressed with six.
A torrential pre-match downpour created puddles of water in some areas of the pitch. In such demanding conditions, teams often prefer a direct, long-ball approach, but the Malian Eagles and the Ugandan Cranes opted for a passing game.
It delivered comical results at times as players from both teams overran a ball that got stuck in the heavy pitch. Genuine scoring chances were scarce with Mali captain Yacouba Sylla coming as close as anyone to breaking the opening-half deadlock.
Impressive winger Bissouma pushed the ball into the area just outside the box and Sylla unleased a shot that was just too high.
The first competitive match between the countries took place in a 20,000-seat stadium built for the tournament outside the town of Oyem. Readying a venue surrounded by a huge rain forest was a close call with workers applying the finishing touches just hours before the first matches last week.
Like the other three Cup of Nations venues in Gabon, the Oyem pitch has come under fire from coaches. Tournament officials showed little sympathy, however, with one telling Ivory Coast handler Michel Dussuyer "you have played on worse elsewhere".
CAF committee member and former Senegal striker Khalilou Fadiga was equally unmoved by complaints.
"Let the players not expect the pitches in Africa to be like those in Europe," he said.