The group stage of the Orange African Nations Championship concludes on Wednesday 22nd January with two matches from Group D. At Free State Stadium in Mangaung, Gabon will be looking to reach their first ever quarter finals at this tournament when they take on Mauritania while in Polokwane debutants Burundi will clash with DR Congo in a match to be played at the same time as the Mangaung game.
Burundi currently sit at the summit of the group on the same number of points as Gabon (4) with DR Congo third on (3) points and Mauritania bringing up the rear with no points yet. The battle for the two spots is between the top three and Gabon coach Stephane Bounguendza told Cafonline.com ahead of Wednesday match that Mauritania will be given the respect and attention like the other opponents before them, “We are up against a good side that in scoring two goals in their first CHAN finals proved how good they are and l believe this match will be a tough as any”
Bounguendza’s opposite number Patrice Neveu poured praise on the CHAN competition which he said has allowed Mauritanian players to experience top level continental competition and gain the experience needed to be among the top football playing nations, “This is a great tournament and we have thoroughly enjoyed it and we will play our last match against Gabon determined to do even better than our first two games”
Gabon registered their first win of the tournament with a 1-0 victory over the DR Congo, courtesy of an early goal by defender Erwin Nguema. Debutants Mauritania lead twice in a pulsating match against fellow first time finalist, Burundi but a wonder strike from Burundi captain Selemani Ndikumana with virtually the last kick of the game condemned them to a 3-2 loss. It was a heart-breaker of a goal for Mauritania but coach Neveu believes his charges have put that behind them and will be out to match Gabon. “We have scored twice so far in this competition although we still do not have points, we have come close and we will keep trying and the match against Gabon is another chance to do so. It has been good for Mauritanian football that we played in this competition we want to end on a positive note and will be ready for Gabon on Wednesday” said Neveu
Gabon is aware that a win will qualify the Panthers to the knock-out phase but should result in the other game go favourably even a draw might be sufficient. Bounguendza downplayed the pressure this puts his side under saying, “We know the permutations and we want to finish top of the group but we are not putting ourselves under pressure, just have to go out there and play our game. Mauritania is very good offensively and we have to watch that but our defense has been perhaps our strongest department. We have been surprised how hot Mangaung has been since our arrival, so l am hoping that the players will acclimatise well before the match. I thought Polokwane was hot but it’s hotter here in Mangaung.
So all eyes will be on Group D to see who the top two will be and complete the quarter final list for Orange African Nations Championship, South Africa 2014. For the side that tops the group, Libya awaits in Polokwane while second placed side in Group D will travel to Mangaung to face Group C winners Ghana.
The Gabon versus Mauritania match in Group D (kicks-off at 19h00 local time).
Confederation of African Football (CAF) News
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