Azingo Nationale or Les Pantheres (The Panthers), are the national football team of Gabon , a small West African country.
Gabon have never qualified for the World Cup finals and have only qualified 3 times before for the African Cup of Nations, with their best performance coming in 1994 when they reached the quarter finals. Their last appearance was in 2000 where they were eliminated in round one.
Despite their unglamorous history Gabon are currently enjoying a relatively successful period. They were unlucky not to qualify for the World Cup South Africa when a last game defeat to Togo condemned them second place in Group A (including Cameroon, Togo and Morocco) behind Cameroon. This runners up spot provided qualification for the African Nations Cup in Angola.
Gabon will be eager to impress this time round with no World Cup prospects in the short term and qualification for the next African Cup of Nations being assured as co-hosts with Equatorial Guinea in 2012.
Gabon’s French coach Alan Giresse has named a squad compiled mainly from France’s Ligue 1 with a splattering of players from the Belgian and Turkish first divisions. Their main threats are Hull City striker Daniel Cousin and partner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Lille. Giresse has also named three players from Mangasport of the Gabonian first division.
Full Gabon squad :
Goalkeepers: Didier Ovono Ebang (Le Mans, France), Claude Boris Nguema (Telestars FC), Yves Bitseki Moto (US Bitam).
Defenders: Georges Ambourouet (Macedonia Skopje, Macedonia), Erwin Nguema (Coton Sport Garoua, Cameroon), Bruno Ecuele Manga (Angers, France), Ernest Akouassaga (Nantes, France), Arsene do Marcolino (Les Herbiers, France), Moise Brou Apanga (Stade Brest, France), Rodrigue Moudounga (Mangasport).
Midfielders: Jean Stephane Yessi Achi Aman (Mangasport), Alain Djissikadie (TP Mazembe Englebert, DR Congo), Stephane Nguema (Rennes, France), Bruno Zita Mbanangoye (Sivasspor, Turkey), Cedric Moubamba (Dhofar, Oman), Thierry Issiemou (US Monastir, Tunisia), Paul Ulrich Kessany (Istres, France).
Forwards: Daniel Cousin (Hull City, England), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Lille, France), Willy Aubameyang (Eupen, Belgium), Fabrice do Marcolino (Laval, France), Roguy Meye (Ankaraspor, Turkey), Eric Mouloungui (Nice, France).
Gabon’s first game will come on the 13th of January against group favorites Cameroon, a team they know all too well from qualification. However, real hope of progress will follow with games against Tunisia on the 17th and Zambia on the 21st. If they can beat both of these teams they should be assured of qualification to the next round.
Gabon may be the surprise package of the tournament with recent performances auguring well for the future.