Afcon 2017: Gabon and Guinea Bissau share spoils in opening match

    By Prince Dulzy

    Host nation Gabon were held to a 1-1 draw by debutants Guinea Bissau in Libreville in the opening match of the African Cup of Nations 2017.

    Gabon had taken the lead in the 53rd minute through their captain and main man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but Guinea-Bissau defender Juary Martinho Soares scored a late equalizer to deny the host nation all three points in a match that was really intense.

    It was Gabon that looked brighter in the early minutes of the game, controlling possession and dominating the midfield, with Guinea Bissau only staying back and waiting for an opportunity for counter-attack.

    But Gabon failed to capitalize from disorganised Guinea Bissau in the early stages of the game, and Guinea Bissau gradually found their rhythm, grew in confidence and got into the game proper.

    It was a stalemate in the first half with both sides failing to make any good use of the chances they created.

    Gabon upped the tempo in the second half piling pressure on the defence of Guinea Bissau, until they finally broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored from a low cross from Bouanga.

    The ball found its way out to Bouanga on the right side of the penalty area and his low drive back through the six-yard box was stabbed in by Aubameyang at the far post.

    The goal brought back the dead home fans whose voices were not heard until the goal, and that motivated Gabon to keep on attacking.

    For the next thirty-five minutes, it was a balance game with both sides creating chances and defending very well. Gabon had a golden opportunity to put the match out of reach for Guinea Bissau in the 69th minute, but Aubameyang blasted a clear chance over the crossbar after receiving a cutback pass from Juventus midfielder Mario Lemina.

    Right after that missed opportunity, Guinea Bissau went close to drawing level when Substitute Frederic Mendy headed straight at Gabon goalkeeper Didier Ovono following a deep free-kick.

    Not long then the equalizer came through Juary Martinho Soares, leaving it late in the stoppage time from a free-kick which floated into the right side of the Gabon penalty area, and Soares guided it into the bottom corner.

    By Prince Dulzy

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