Sunday, January 22, 2012

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23.01. (Mon) 17:00 Gabon - Niger

Steven Pienaar - Afrika Selatan (Getty Images)
Mahmoud maher



Moundounga, E. Manga, B. Apanga, Ambouroet
Poko, Moubamba, Zita,
Mouloungui, Cousin, Aubameyang

KassalyMoussa, Chikoto, Kowa, Koudize
Ngounou, Talatou, Idrissa, Lancina
Maazou, Daouda
The Panthers boast a full-strength squad for their clash with the Mena, who are making their debut at the Africa Cup of Nations. The co-hosts have brought back 14 of the 23 players who represented them at the previous edition two years ago in Angola.

Gabon are strong in attack, with former Milan forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, now of St Etienne, and Daniel Cousin providing impressive options up front. Defender Bruno Ecuele Manga will be marshalling the back line, and the Panthers will feel confident that they can make full use of home advantage here.

Level with Sierra Leone and South Africa at the end of all the matches in their qualifying group, and benefitting from the Caf specific regulations to go through, Niger are expected to be the whipping boys in this group, but they will have a great change to prove themselves against the co-hosts.

Niger trainer Harouna Douala was named by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) as the Africa's top coach of the year for his work in helping the country qualify for their first ever Afcon. Prior to receiving the honour, the Niger FA hired former Marseille coach Frenchman Rolland Courbis to assist him during the tournament, and this match will show just how useful the new recruit has been to the squad.

After this encounter is decided, the two teams involved will have battle it out in Group C against north African giants Tunisia and Morocco.

  • Gabon are hosting the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations alongside co-hosts Equatorial Guinea.
  • Gabon have the dubious record of being the opposition when Ayman Mansour of Egypt score the quickest goal in the history of the tournament in 23 seconds at the El Menzah Stadium in Tunis during the 1994 finals. 
  • In November last year Gabon lost 2-0 to Brazil in the inaugural match at the Stade de L'Amitie. The venue will host the Afcon final in February.
  • Former Hull City and Rangers striker Daniel Cousin is the captain of the Panthers.
  • Niger star player Moussa Maazou's Belgian club Zulte-Waregem recently received the unenviable “Ballon de plomb” awarded by “Les Cahiers du Football” as the biggest disappointment of the year.
  • During the Afcon Niger will be assisted by trainer Rolland Courbis, along with coach Harouna Douala, who was nominated best African coach in 2011 by the Confederation of African Football (Caf).
  • This match will see the Mena make their Afcon debut.
  • In the run up to the tournament, Niger used the facilities at the Kadji Sport Academy in Cameroon, where the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Idriss Carlos Kameni, Nicolas Nkoulou and Stephan Mbia were groomed.

The co-hosts will be lifted by their home support, but Niger will know that they have nothing to lose in this encounter.
Editor's Prediction
Gabon 2-1 Niger