Hosts Gabon under pressure after draw

Gabon star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring against Guinea-Bissau with fellow forward Malick Evouna.
Gabon star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring against Guinea-Bissau with fellow forward Malick Evouna.PHOTO: REUTERS

LIBREVILLE • Minnows Guinea-Bissau made it a memorable start to the Africa Cup of Nations as a late Juary Soares equaliser saw them hold hosts Gabon to a 1-1 draw in Saturday's opening game.

He headed home for the tournament debutants in the 90th minute to cancel out Gabonese poster boy Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's opener in the Group A game at the Stade de l'Amitie in capital Libreville.

The final whistle was greeted with jeers from the home support but there was delight for Guinea-Bissau, for whom just being at the tournament is a remarkable achievement.

By playing at the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time, the tiny nation has risen from Fifa rankings obscurity to 15th in Africa and 68th in the world. They also rose 78 places last year - more than any other country.

"We are very, very happy," Guinea-Bissau coach Baciro Cande said.

"Now we have the motivation to go as far as possible."

The pressure is now on Gabon to achieve positive results from their next two group games against Burkina Faso and Cameroon, with the top two in the group advancing to the quarter-finals.

"We remain positive. We're at home, it remains a big advantage for us and this is a tournament in which we want to achieve something," Aubameyang told reporters.

"We made a mistake (giving away a late goal) but it is now up to us to rectify the problem and win the next game.

"Obviously the result was not ideal to start with. The first half was difficult. We began with a little stress, we were a little tense.

"Unfortunately in the end, we let in a goal that we should not have conceded. It was a mistake that we should not have made. It will teach us not to repeat it."

Ivory Coast begin their title defence against Togo in Group C today.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2017, with the headline 'Hosts Gabon under pressure after draw'. Print Edition | Subscribe