Team Profile: Gabon

Nickname: The Panthers
Association formed: 1962
Previous Afcon Appearances: 6 (1994, 1996, 2000, 2010, 2012, 2015)
Best result: Quarterfinal (1996, 2012)
Coach: Jose Antonio Camacho
Leading scorers: all-time –Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (20)
Most appearances: all-time –Didier Ovono (88)
FIFA ranking: 110 (34th in CAF)

THE BIG QUESTION
As a host nation there is a heavy task for them to deliver, meet home fans’ expectations and produce good football at least. Can their star man and in-form Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lead them to their first Afcon title?

WHO ARE THEY?
The Gabon national football team represents Gabon in international association football and has done so since 1962. They have never qualified for the World Cup finals, but have qualified five times for the Africa Cup of Nations.

TOP THREE PLAYERS
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Without a doubt their best and most dangerous player. The reigning African Player of the Year is has been Dortmund’s top scorer two seasons in a row and was Bundesliga Player of the Year last season. He has scored 20 goals so far this season for his club and three for Gabon. His breakaway speed, skill on the turn and lethal finishing is among the Panthers’ biggest weaponry.

Didier N’Dong: Dubbed ‘the new Michael Essien’ when he joined Sunderland for a club record £13.6m in the summer, N’Dong immediately broke into the Black Cats starting line-up, providing energy and zest to their midfield

Mario Lemina: A box-to-box midfielder who has won the Serie A title and Coppa Italia with Juventus, the 23-year-old represented France at cadet level but pinned his international allegiance to Gabon.

HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Gabon qualified as hosts, although they did play in qualifying Group I along with Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Sudan, drawing at home to the Elephants, beating Sudan home and away, and splitting six points down the middle with Sierra Leone. Those results were classed as friendlies by CAF. Since their last game against Sudan, a 2-1 win on the road, they’ve lost 2-1 to Cameroon and drawn 1-1 at home to Comoros. Yes, Comoros! Not good signs.

FULL 23-MAN SQUAD AFCON

GOALKEEPERS: Didier Ovono (KV Oostende, Belgium), Yves Stéphane Bitséki Moto (CF Mounana), Anthony Mfa Mezui (without a club).

DEFENDERS: Lloyd Palun (Red Star, France), André Biyogho Poko (Kardemir Karabukspor, Turkey), Aaron Appindangoye (Stade Lavallois, France), Franck Perrin Obambou (Mandji Stadium), Bruno Ecuele Manga (Cardiff City FC, Wales), Yoann Wachter (CS Sedan Ardennes, France), Johann Serge Obiang (ESTAC Troyes, France), Benjamin Zé Ondo (Mosta FC, Malta)

MIDFIELDERS: Junior Serge Martinsson Ngouali (IF Brommapojkarna, Sweden), Levy Clement Madinda (Nastic Tarragona, Spain), Guelor Kanga Kaku (Red Star Belgrade, Serbia), Merlin Tandjigora (Meixian Hakka FC, China), Didier Ibrahim Ndong (Sunderland AFC, England), Samson Mbingui (Raja Casablanca, Morocco), Mario René Junior Lemina (Juventus Turin, Italy)

FORWARDS: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Malick Evouna (Tianjin Teda FC China), Denis Athanasius Bouanga (Tours FC, France), Serge Kevyn Aboue Angoué (Uniao Leiria, Portugal), Cedric Ondo Biyoghe (CF Mounana)

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