On paper Cameroon look like the clear favourites for this match having the benefit of several world class names to their disposal.
Manager, Paul Le Guen has named a 23 man squad containing ex-Liverpool defender Rigobert Song, Newcastle’s former Geremi, Burnley’s André Bikey and Benoît Assou-Ekotto of Tottenham. All of these players will provide steal in midfield and defence and have European and previous World Cup and African Cup of Nations experience.
Much is expected of youngster Stéphane Mbia of Marseille in Angola, a classy, skill-full player who should link well with talisman, captain and superstar Samuel Eto’o.
Eto’o will be key in this match. Typically bullish he has already predicated that he will be the tournament’s top goal scorer and the Gabonese must try to make sure he has a poor start to the campaign. Not an easy task.
Gabon will have a selection of players picked mainly from lower to mind Ligue 1 teams. Their main strength lies in their manager, Alan Giresse who will have to organize his team into compact defensive unit and flood the midfield and stop any Cameroonian creativity. If they can hassle and frustrate Cameroon they may be able counter attack and lay on chances for Daniel Cousin and starlet Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
It would be suicide if Gabon were to meet Cameroon head on, realistically a draw would be the best possible result setting them up nicely for their next matches against Tunisia and Zambia.
In the qualifiers for South Africa and this tournament Gabon where beaten twice in 4 days by Cameroon essentially ending their hopes of qualification. However they were far from embarrassed pushing Cameroon all the way. A similar performance with a better result would be ideal.
A defeat for Gabon this time round would not be disastrous however a win or draw would be an excellent start.
Probable starting 11 for Gabon: Ovono Ebang; Akouassaga, Moundounga, Ambourouet, Nguema; Kessany, Mbanangoye, Moubamba; Do Marcolino, Cousin, Aubameyang.
Probable starting 11 for Cameroon : Kameni; Geremi, Song, Nkoulou, Assou-Ekotto; Emana, Mbia, Makoun; Webo, Eto’o, Alo’o Efoulou.
Predicted result: 1-1