2019 AFCON Qualifiers: Gabon counting on Auba's Arsenal form to jumpstart campaign
Things will get heated in the men’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers over the next couple of days. We are spoiled with two legged fixtures (matchday 3 and 4) for all the participants with the first leg coming to our screens as early as Wednesday, 10th of October and the final matches of the second legs finishing one week later. This means that a crucial six points is up for grabs for all teams and also at risk of slipping away. The six points are perhaps most important to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Gabon who lie off the qualification places, behind Mali and Burundi in group C.
Last time out, Gabon misfired as they drew 1-1 with Burundi at home. This was after they had lost their opening match to a solid Malian team who currently tops the group. The clash over two legs in a space of four days with lowly ranked South Sudan is a must win for the Panthers of Gabon if they are to appear in next year’s AFCON finals running from the 15th of June to 13th July, with Cameroon being the designated host. They are fears the host nation could be changed amid unrest and infrastructure unpreparedness in the central African nation.
The tie wouldn’t have come at a better time for Gabonese captain and all time record goal scorer, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Arsenal forward is currently in sizzling form for the Gunners, with the weekend’s premier league performance against Fulham still fresh in many people’s memories. Auba came on for Unai Emery’s men and scored a brace whilst also assisting Aaron Ramsey for a wonder goal, all in space of twenty minutes. The new Gabonese coach, Daniel Cousin has also called on notable experienced players in Southampton’s Mario Lemina and Cardiff City defender, Bruno Ecuele Manga to sail his side to all six points. As we have seen in times past, there is never an easy match in the AFCON tournament, favorites Gabon will have to be on their A game for the contest taking place firstly on Friday in Libreville and finishing off the following Tuesday in South Sudan.
Here is Gabon’s full squad for the tie:
Goalkeepers: Didier Ovono (Paris FC, France), Yves Bitséki Moto (Mounana)
Defenders: Bruno Ecuele Manga (Cardiff City, England), Aaron Appindangoyé (Umraniyespor, Turkey), Henri Ndong (FC Shirak, Armenia), Franck Obambou (Al Ittihad, Libya), Wilfried Ebane Abessolo (Lorient, France), Ulysse Ndong(Al-Khor, Qatar), Johann Obiang (Troyes, France), Lloyd Palun (Cercle Brugge, Belgium)
Midfielders: Mario Lemina (Southampton, England), Franck Engonah (Al Gaish, Egypt), Samson Mbingui (Tours, France), Andre Biyogo Poko (Göztepe, Turkey), Serge-Junior Martinsson Ngouali(Hammarby, Sweden), Clech Loufilou (Mangasport), Lévy Madinda (Umraniyespor, Turkey)
Forwards: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal, England), Axel Méyé (Qadsia, Kuwait), Denis Bouanga (Nimes, France), Louis Autchanga (Chamois Niortais, France), Gaëtan Missi Mezu (Dunarea Calarasi, Romania), Alain Miyogho (Mangasport)