Sports News of Monday, 23 January 2017
Hosts Gabon were eliminated from the African Cup of Nations after a goalless draw with Cameroon in their final Group. A match on Sunday.
Burkina Faso finished top of the table on goal difference from Cameroon, with Gabon out of their own tournament after three successive draws.
Gabon came close to a dramatic victory when Denis Bouanga struck the post in stoppage time and then Didier Ndong saw his follow-up effort brilliantly saved by Cameroon’s young goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa.
The 21-year-old from Sevilla’s reserves made several crucial stops to ensure the draw although Gabon never looked capable of winning the game except for in the first five minutes and then their last-gasp attack.
Bouanga, their best player at the tournament who had never played for them before being selected at the finals, cut inside and rattled the woodwork before Ondoa’s diving save blocked the rebound.
Ondoa had twice foiled Bouanga’s high efforts by tipping the ball over the top in the second half.
Gabon started at a furious pace and had several chances in a furious opening five minutes, notably when captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could have tapped in at the back post but missed a chance he would ordinarily convert with ease.
A sweeping move started by Sunderland midfielder Ndong found Bouanga out wide on the left and he drove the ball across the goal to Aubameyang, who contrived to place it wide with the Cameroon defence beaten.
“We chased the win from the start but we never really had a chance to win. I’m sorry for the Gabonese people,” said Gabon’s Spanish coach Jose Antonio Camacho.
Gabon are the first hosts to fail to get past the first round since Tunisia in 1994. Burkina Faso topped the group after they beat Guinea Bissau 2-0 at the same time in Franceville.
“Our young team showed something good to get to the quarter-finals. Now anything can happen. We started badly and finished badly but we played well for the rest,” said Cameroon coach Hugo Broos.