By Kingsley Kobo in Libreville
Two days after one of the favourites of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, Senegal, shockingly crashed out of the competition, another big gun in the form of Morocco was surprisingly eliminated by a determined Gabon on Friday, prompting players from the co-hosts to begin believing in their title chances.
Saint Etienne’s 22-year-old striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is a rising star with the Panthers, confessed to Goal.com that he and other team-mates now feel confident that Gabon could play the final of the 2012 Afcon at their home ground on February 12.
He said his side gradually built confidence across their two games won against Niger (2-0) and Morocco (3-2), while fetching enough inspiration from the performances of co-hosts Equatorial Guinea, who defeated Libya in their opener and sent the Teranga Lions packing in the second match.
“I can confess to you that our anxiety about the tournament and the awe of big teams has gradually vanished. We are now very confident to face any side,” Aubameyang told Goal.com.
“Firstly, it was the Equatorial Guinea’s 1-0 win over Libya that sparked off our motivation. We defeated Niger 2-0 and settled properly for the competition, and when the Nzalang Nacional did it again by stopping favourites Senegal, pressure was on our shoulders not to fumble in our next outing against another top team, Morocco, which eventually happened to our favour.
“There is some kind of power, feeling running in our veins right now, like we must and need to reach and play the final on February 12. Against who? Just Anybody! We no longer fear any team, however their status. All I can say is that spirits are very high at the moment and we can’t wait to tackle the hurdles separating us from the final.”
The Panthers take on Tunisia in their final Group C match on Tuesday, and if there is a winner in that game they will top the pool with maximum points and avoid other top-placed sides in the quarter-finals.