Gabon made its debut in April 1960 by entering the L’Amitié tournament for French-speaking countries, held in Madagascar. They played in the first round on 13 April against Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), who were also making their debut and lost 5-4. They did not play another match until the next time the tournament was staged, in April 1963 in Senegal. The Panthers were drawn in a group with Upper Volta, France’s amateur team and Gambia. They opened on 11 April by defeating Upper Volta 4-0, and then lost 3-0 to the French two days later. On 15 April, Gabon drew 2-2 against the Gambians and were knocked out.
Times certainly improved as the Gabonese won the UDEAC Championship in 1985 and 1988, the UNIFAC Cup in 1999 and the CEMAC Cup in 2013. The country also co-hosted the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 alongside Equatorial Guinea, the lone hosts for 2015. Gabon topped their Group C AFCON Qualifying with 12 points; winning three and drawing three. The Panthers scored nine goals and conceded four as they managed to see off the likes of Lesotho and the Burkinabes along the way.
If Gabon are to replicate their quarter-final appearance from 2012, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be key. The Borrusia Dortmund forward is also the national team captain. He is the main player for the Gabonese as they will be looking to excel at the tournament. Aubameyang is lightning quick and has the ability to pass players easily, as he has shown in the Bundesliga.
Prediction: Group Stage exit