By Amakye Ansah
#10. Gabon 🇬🇦
Nickname: The Brazilians, The Panthers
Last Appearance: 2017
Coach: Patrice Neveu ( France)
Best AFCON results: quarter-final (1996,2012)
Skipper: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Player to watch: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
CAF Rankings: 19
FIFA Rankings: 89
They are affectionately known as The Brazilians. Have the Panthers ever played like the stylish Celecao before?
Gabon finished as runner-up in Group D of the 2021 AFCON qualifiers, 1 point ahead of D. R Congo. The inconsistencies in their results show clearly the kind of a team they are: very unpredictable.
The 30-man list called by French tactician Patrice Neveu is led by Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and former Juventus and Southampton midfielder Mario Lemina, now with OGC Nice in France.
In a group (C), alongside heavyweights like Ghana and Morocco, Gabon will be much excited to get a point against any of these two teams. They will kick-off their campaign with a winnable fixture against minnows Comoros on January 10 at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde.
Expectations are not high on the team especially with star man Aubameyang enduring a horrible spell at the moment with Arsenal.
The core of the team
24-year-old Amazulu goalkeeper Jean Amonome is on the bench at club level but number 1 for Gabon.
Former Bordeaux and Cardiff City defender, Bruno Ecuele Manga, now with Dijon will offer The Panthers immense experience in the tournament.
Mario Lemina is enjoying a wonderful season in French Ligue 1 with 2nd placed OGC Nice under the tutelage of Christophe Galtier. The Libreville born former French U-20 player is a powerful central midfielder with enough energy. He will be their main man in midfield.
Gabon will hope that Aubameyang will hit top form in Cameroon to fire them to the knockout stages at least. French-born Jim Allevinah of Clermont in French Ligue 1 is another attacking player The Brazilians can rely on for goals.
Patrice Neveu likes formation changes. Hence, it will be very difficult for you to predict his first 11 and formation.
Jean Amonome (GK)
Johan Obieng, Ecuele Manga, Sidney Obissa, Lloyd Palun (DF)
Mario Lemina, Guelor Kanga, Andre Poko (MF)
Aubameyang, Jim Allevinah, Denis Bouanga
Expectations: Round 16