Helder Pelembe’s goal helped Mozambique defeat Gabon 1-0 in a 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualification second round first leg clash on Wednesday at the Estadio Nacional do Zimpeto in Maputo. The first chance for the home side would come in the third minute when Pelembe, received a cross from Mandava but then fired wide from close range. The first attempt for the Gabonese came in the 15th minute, when striker Malick Evouna occupied the Mozambican box, and placed his effort over the crossbar.
Shortly before half time, the visitors had yet another promising chance when Evouna’s deflected shot shaved the crossbar. Levy Madinda was also unfortunate as he missed a chance at scoring the first goal just five minutes before the end of stanza one. The half could have ended with the west Africans leading 1-0, but instead both teams were deadlocked at 0-0.
In the 54th minute, the South African-based Pelembe broke that deadlock with an excellent finish to make it 1-0. Candy was snatched from the visitors’ mouth when striker Evouna thought he had equalised. However, the match referee denied them the goal and called it for off-side.
With three minutes left on the clock, the Black Mambas had a chance to further increase their lead when captain Pelembe went for goal but his efforts were denied by Panthers goalkeeper Didier Ovono. Despite all the efforts, when the whistle blew the score was still 1-0. The second leg will be played at the Stade d’Angondjé, in Libreville on Saturday.
Photo credit: Nick Lourens