Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is confident hosts Gabon have learned from the mistakes of their disappointing 1-1 Africa Cup of Nations draw with Guinea-Bissau as they get set to face Burkina Faso on Wednesday.
It is all to play for in Group A after the opening matches between Gabon and Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso and Cameroon ended in 1-1 draws.
Aubameyang scored the opener in the first game of the competition, only for Gabon to be denied maximum points by Juary Soares’ injury-time equaliser.
“We have learnt from our mistakes,” captain and striker Aubameyang said. “I remain positive that we can reach our first goal, which is qualifying for the knockout phase.
“We have lofty ambitions in this tournament and playing at home in front of our wonderful supporters is a great advantage.
“Mistakes were made against Guinea-Bissau, like conceding a goal in the final minute. We must now rectify those errors and defeat Burkina Faso.”
Gabon beat Burkina Faso 2-0 in the group stage in 2015 – Aubameyang opened the scoring – and revenge could be on the mind of Stallions coach Paulo Duarte.
Duarte was sacked by Gabon after failing to qualify for the 2013 AFCON and the 2014 World Cup.
“We have a good group of players and there is a good balance of the team,” Duarte said. “We have many players injured.
“Burkina Faso has another problem in the sense that we don’t have players who are playing in big leagues in Europe. We have to manage with the least players that we have.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Gabon – Mario Lemina
While all of the focus surrounding Gabon is on skipper and Borussia Dortmund talisman Aubameyang, Lemina is just as key to their hopes. The Juventus midfielder played in behind Aubameyang in the opener and will look to help provide service to their prolific centre forward to ensure they put the game to bed this time around.
Burkina Faso – Jonathan Pitroipa
Likely to play in the same role as Lemina for Burkina Faso, Pitroipa will be hoping for an improved performance from the one he produced in the opener, which saw him fail to create a single chance. But Pitroipa has pedigree in this competition, having been named the player of the tournament when they reached the final in 2013. Similar form will be required if Burkina Faso are to see off the hosts.
KEY OPTA STATS
– Paulo Duarte is taking charge of Burkina Faso at a third AFCON after 2010 and 2012. He’s yet to win any of his six games at the tournament with the Stallions (D2 L4).
– Burkina Faso come into this game having won only one of their last 21 matches in this competition during the group stages (D8 L12).
– Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been directly involved in eight of the last 11 AFCON goals recorded by Gabon (scoring five and assisting three).
– Gabon have failed to win any of their last three matches in the Africa Cup of Nations (D1 L2); scoring only one goal in that time.
– Four of the last six goals Gabon have conceded in the competition have come in the 84th minute or later.
– Burkina Faso’s Alain Traore created five chances for his team-mates during their match against Cameroon last time out; no Gabon player recorded more than two versus Guinea-Bissau.
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