Guinea-Bissau continued their fairy-tale run by holding Gabon to a 1-1 draw in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations opener at the Stade de l’Amitié in Libreville yesterday. The African minnows, playing in their first Afcon, scored a 91st minute equaliser through Juary Soares to claim a point in the Group A clash.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looked to have secured all three points for the Panthers, but having switched off in the final 10 minutes of the clash the hosts were duly punished.
Like plenty of Nations Cup openers in years gone by, this particular clash also got off to a rather lethargic start with neither side showing real impetus nor rhythm in the early exchanges.
Gabon’s first chance of the match fell to Malick Evouna on 20 minutes, but the China-based forward was unable to direct Aubameyang’s pin-point cross past the Guinea-Bissau goal-minder.
Zezinho then fired the visitors first shot in anger over the crossbar in the 31st minute before Mario Lemina saw his header go wide of goal at the other end of the park. The Juventus man, having flung himself at a free-kick was not rewarded for what would have been a quality goal.
The home side came out firing after the break with Denis Bouanga forcing Jonas Mendes into a good save in the 49th minute of the clash, and it would be the Strasbourg man to play a key role in the first goal of the showpiece.
Aubameyang popped up at the far post to poke home a precise cross by Bouanga three minutes later.
The Borussia Dortmund forward squandered a glorious chance to double the hosts lead in the 69th minute.
Lemina did excellent work to keep the ball in play before supplying the Panthers captain, who sent his volley attempt over the crossbar.
But, for all their graft Gabon seemed a tad reluctant in the final exchanges and after Toni Silva and Frédéric Mendy missed gilt-edged chances, Soares rose highest to level matters.
The burly centre-back guided the ball past Didier Ovono as the home crowd were shocked to silence. Gabon coach José Antonio Camacho now has his work cut out with games against Burkina Faso and Cameroon to follow.
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