President Bongo heaps praises on ‘fantastic’ Gabon after fine run

Gabon's forward Aaron Boupendza celebrates

Gabon's forward Aaron Boupendza (third left) celebrates scoring his team's second goal during their Group 'C' Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) 2021 match against Morocco at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde on January 18, 2022.


Photo credit: Kenzo Tribouillard | AFP

What you need to know:

  • The Panthers of Gabon, who had a rough departure for the tournament marred by bonus rows got their knockout stage qualification after a 2-2 draw with Morocco on Tuesday finishing second in Group ‘C’ with five points
  • At their eighth participation, the Panthers are looking to go pass their quarter-finals stage—the highest they have reached previously; in 1996 and 2012


In Yaounde

President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon has congratulated the country’s national team for qualifying for the round of 16 at the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

The Panthers of Gabon, who had a rough departure for the tournament marred by bonus rows got their knockout stage qualification after a 2-2 draw with Morocco on Tuesday finishing second in Group ‘C’ with five points.

"Congratulations to our Panthers who qualified for the 8th finals," the Gabonese president wrote on his official social media page.

The leader in his message told coach Patrice Neveu’s men that they should know they are going into another competition and must knot relent as all the Gabonese people are behind them.

"Be exemplary and make us even more proud," President Ali bongo wrote.

At their eighth participation, the Panthers are looking to go pass their quarter-finals stage—the highest they have reached previously; in 1996 and 2012.

The team had a bumpy take off to the tournament in Yaounde earlier this month with players refusing to board a plane from the United Arab Emirates where they had pre-tournament camp, demanding that their bonuses be paid upfront.

When the row over bonuses was finally resolved and the players jetted in Yaounde, they were faced with another problem; their hotel, according to the players did not meet their expectations. The team refused the hotel the Confederation of African Football had reserved for them, preferring another facility that was not accredited by the continental football governing body.

Last week, (CAF) imposed a Sh2.2 million ($20,000) fine on Gabon for the action which the soccer said was violated safety and security directives.

Though also hit by Covid-19 with stars, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mario Lemina not being able to take part in the competition because of the virus, the Panthers still cruised through the group stages recording a victory in their first outing against Comoros and settling for draws against Ghana and Morocco.

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