Gabon 1-1 Burkina Faso
Gabon’s continued participation in the Africa Cup of Nations was in serious doubt after the tournament hosts were held 1-1 by Burkina Faso at the Stade de l’Amitié in Libreville, their second draw in Group A.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a penalty to equalise, adding to his goal in the opener against Guinea-Bissau, but Gabon missed two good late chances to win the game.
Prejuce Nakoulma put Burkina Faso ahead in the 22nd minute before Aubameyang equalised from the spot 16 minutes later.
Nakoulma, who had come on in the 11th minute when the Burkina striker Jonathan Pitroipa appeared to sustain a serious knee injury, ran from the edge of his own penalty area on to a clearance and got the better of the full-back Johann Obiang before stroking the ball into the net.
Yet Burkina Faso’s lead evaporated when they were caught in similar circumstances as a long ball from Merlin Tandjigora was chased down by Aubameyang, who had his feet swept from under him by the goalkeeper Herve Koffi. The Borussia Dortmund forward got up to take the spot-kick himself, which he tucked away neatly to the relief of the home crowd.
Thereafter Gabon offered little evidence of being serious contenders at their own tournament until the last 10 minutes when the midfielder Denis Bouanga had a close-range effort well saved by Koffi before the forward Serge Kevyn missed with a header.
Gabon – already without the injured Juventus defender Mario Lemina – lost Obiang after 35 minutes. Pitroipa’s early departure for the Burkinabé, meanwhile, is a serious blow to their quest to repeat the heroics of 2013 when they got to the final and the forward was named player of the tournament.
The hosts’ poor start was also reflected in a far from full stadium in the country’s capital for the key game as sceptical supporters stayed away. The draw means Gabon and Burkina Faso have two points each from their opening two matches.