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Gabon look to equal best AFCON 2021 showing

Aaron Boupendza of Gabon celebrates goal during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Afcon Finals football match between Gabon and Morocco at Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon on 18 January 2022 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Gabon will look to equal their best-ever Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations showing when they face Burkina Faso in a Round of 16 clash at the Limbe Stadium on the evening of Sunday.

Kick-off is at 6pm CAT (SA, GMT+2).

Gabon, who went unbeaten through Group C and were runners-up behind heavyweights Morocco, are looking to progress through the Quarterfinals of the Afcon for the third time, having reached the last eight in 2012 and 2017 (when they were co-hosts and hosts respectively).

Those Quarterfinal appearances are their best Nations Cup performances, and equalling them while away from home would represent a major achievement for Patrice Neveu and his Leopards.

“My team had the match they needed,” said Neveu after a thrilling 2-2 draw with Morocco on Tuesday. “The players followed the guidelines well. We thought we would win the match but this draw is still good, which allows us to continue the adventure. We would have liked to take the three points but it is football. In the Round of 16 against Burkina Faso, it will be a difficult game against a team that plays well.”

Burkina Faso, meanwhile, were runners-up in Group A, ranked ahead of third-place finisher Cape Verde only on head-to-head count-back. Nonetheless, the Stallions have generally impressed at the Afcon thus far and coach Kamou Malo is confident that his side has more to give in the tournament.

“We are happy to be qualified [for the Round of 16],” said Malo. “It’s a competition, and we will move forward little by little. We will work, because we know that our team is not at the top. We will correct our shortcomings and that’s how this team will grow.”

Read Also: Nigeria seek to march on in AFCON 2021 against Tunisia

He added, “I know how far my team can get… we are in the knockout stages, let’s wait and see what happens.”

In head-to-head stats, Burkina Faso and Gabon have met in 19 matches across all competitions, dating back as far as 1988. The Panthers have claimed eight wins compared to four for the Stallions, while seven games have been drawn.

The teams last met in an international friendly in Paris in October 2019, with Gabon winning 1-0 thanks to a late goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The winners of this match will face either Nigeria or Tunisia in a Quarterfinal in Garoua on Saturday 29 January.

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