By Prince Dulzy
Very disappointing for hosts Gabon to crash out of the 2017 African Cup of Nations after a 0-0 draw with Cameroon on Sunday at the Stade de l’Amitie in Libreville, becoming only the fourth hosts to exit the AFCON tournament at the group stage.
Gabon were let down once again by their captain and star man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who missed a sitter in the early minutes of the game when he bundled the ball wide from two yards, while Denis Bouanga also had an opportunity to put Gabon through but was denied by the post in stoppage time.
Gabon drew all three matches to finish third in the group, while Cameroon came second behind Burkina Faso who comfortably won 2-0 against Guinea Bissau.
A surprise visit by Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba sparked the home side to start the game firing on all cylinders and could have put the game beyond the reach of the Indomitable Lions with all the chances created in less than five minutes, but failed to score from any of them.
The biggest of all the chances was that of Aubameyang, who awfully missed from two yards after Bouanga’s low cross found the striker at the far post but with the goal gaping he somehow prodded wide.
This miss was worse than the decisive penalty he missed five years ago if distance is anything to go by because he was just couple of yards out at the same time unmarked and well placed, it seemed impossible to do anything other than score.
Denis Bouanga had already missed a fine opening before Borussia Dortmund’s Aubameyang blew that clear cut chance, and all these happened when the game was only four minutes old.
It was Gabon in action in the first half but failed to take their chances. Cameroon in the second half turned things around and somehow found their rhythm with Teikeu coming close to scoring for them.
Cameroon had another great chance to break the deadlock but Benjamin Moukandjo was denied by Gabon goalkeeper Ovono, while Robert Ndip Tambe shot was also saved by nervy Didier Ovono.
With a more balanced game after the break, the Panthers could have snatched a stoppage time win when Christian Bouanga hit the post and Sunderland’s Didier Ndong failed to beat Fabrice Ondoa from a rebound.
That was it – hosts Gabon are out of the tournament, but Christian Bassogog was the star of the moment for Gabon creating lot of chances for his side and wining Man of the Match but all to no avail.
Cameroon after finishing as runners-up in Group A can look forward to a quarter-final against winner in Group B more likely Senegal in Franceville next Saturday. Meanwhile, Burkina Faso will also come up against runners-up of Group B.
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