Gabon Progress to Group Stages

Gabon progressed to the CAF group stages of the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers following a 4-3 penalty shootout win over Mozambique in a match that ended with the former winning 1-0 but held to a 1-1 draw on aggregate at Stade d’Angondjé, Libreville.  Boris Pusic’s team had an advantage heading to this encounter after Helder Pelembe’s solitary strike gave the side a 1-0 victory in Maputo as they also managed to keep a clean sheet.  Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started this one having missed the first leg encounter through injury and the Borrusia Dortmund hitman made an impact early on setting up Malick Evouna’s opener.

Both sides looked well on their way but neither managed to find goals.  The Panthers saw much of the ball heading to the half-hour mark but failed to profit from it.  In the 31st minute, Evouna sent his header over the crossbar as the Gabonese continued to press forward. 

The Mambas finished the half looking the sharpest but could not put one past the keeper as the two sides remained tied at 1-1 on aggregate.  Jorge Costa’s men were pushed further back in the early second half exchanges, as the visitors looked to find an all important away goal.  In the 65th minute, the Sourthen African outfit came close from a freekick but Didier Ovono was alert as he managed to clear.

From there on both sides had fair chances of their own but neither could provide the finishing touch.  Aubameyang had his shot going wide in the 84th minute and that summed up just about how the night was for the two sides as they remained inseparable after 120-minutes of play leaving the match to be decided via the lottery of penalties where Gabon won 4-3 and booked their ticket to the group stages of the qualifiers.

Photo credit: AFP PHOTO / CARL DE SOUZA