With the African Cup of Nations dawning on us, it only seems appropriate that I must tell you what Gabon’s prospects are in the tournament, which they are co-hosting. In Group C, Gabon will be facing Niger, Morocco, and Tunisia. Whilst Niger is unlikely to pose Gabon any real threat, Morocco and Tunisia are fine footballing nations, both featuring in the 2004 final. So who are the players that are likely to fire Les Pantheres to glory?
Being a Goalkeeper, Ovono is more likely to be fighting the fire for Gabon. Ovono plays for Le Mans in France, and is widely seen as one of the best goalkeepers in Ligue 1, and arguably the best in Africa. This will stand Gabon in good stead when having to deal with the likes of Mauroune Chamakh for Morocco.
This is the man, who will be leading the line for Gabon, and therefore it will be vital he reciprocates the form he has been displaying at St Etienne – he has scored 8 goals already this season. Aubameyang brings pace and power to Gabon’s frontline, and if he can start the tournament in the manner he is capable of, he has the potential to write his name into Gabonese folk law.
Along with having a talented goalkeeper in Ovono, Gabon are lucky to have a rock at centre back in the form of Bruno Manga. Manga replaced Laurent Koscielny at Lorient, and has proved to be the most reliable of replacements. His form was rewarded last season with rumours linking him with Arsenal and Aston Villa. If Manga continues his impressive form for Gabon at the African Cup of Nations we may well be seeing him featuring in one of Europe’s finest teams.
Although he is thirty-four years old, Cousin remains a legend in Gabon. This may well be his last Cup of Nations, and he will be determined to aide Gabon having a fine cup run with the twilight of his career in sight. He is currently playing for FC Sapins in Gabon, but he will be prepared for the inevitable higher quality of football with the likes of Lens, Rangers, and Hull City (when in the premiership) appearing on his CV. Every squad needs a veteran to bring confidence and calm to the younger players, and Cousin will be able to provide this.
Mouloungui brings pace to Gabon, and most recently impressed against Brazil in a friendly, albeit in a 2-0 losing cause. Whilst he isn’t a player that immediately catches the eye with many teams having similar players with far higher reputations, he has proved his worth for Nice, and has potential to be a key player for Gabon.
The task for Gabon is simple. Make their fans proud, and progress from Group C to the knockout stages. If they are successful the reward of knockout football on their own turf is a mouthwatering prospect. This could well be the year Gabon is catapulted onto the football map. I wish all the best for the Azingo Nationale!