On to game 2 from Group A, again in the Estadio De Bata, the other two teams from Group A, beaten finalists from the last Africa Cup of Nations -Burkina Faso up against Gabon. And it was another entertaining game with another two goals but this time with a winner. Gabon can feel slightly fortunate to have run out as two goal winners as Burkina Faso proved to be wasteful in front of goal, something they will need to rectify before they come up against the hosts Equatorial Guinea in the next game.
As expected, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was to have an impact on the game, scoring the first goal after 19 minutes. It looked like he may have blown his chance after being put through on goal by Andre Poko, first shooting directly at the Burkina Faso goalkeeper Germaine Sanou, before regaining the rebound and picking his spot in the top corner. The memories of Libreville in 2012 when Aubameyang’s missed penalty cost the Gabonese a semi-final place, will not have been expelled just yet but this goal and any more to come over the next fortnight will go some way towards doing so.
Jonathan Pitroipa of Burkina Faso, top scorer in qualification and player of the tournament two years ago, looked lively but perhaps feel he should have done better with a good chance on the half-hour mark, instead shooting straight at ‘keeper Dider Ovono. During the second half, chances continued for both sides, neither really testing the goalkeepers as much as they should have. Brothers Bertrand and Alain Traore combined well in attack for the Burkina Faso Stallions but amore clinical edge will be needed in their play if they are to progress in this tournament. As we see so often, as the equaliser was sought with increasing desperation, gaps appered at the other end with Gabon breaking on more than three occasions as the tie wore on. Frederick Bulot was guilty of a poor miss for one of the chances, once again not testing the goalkeeper from a good opportunity. But the second goal was to come eventually, with little over quarter of an hour to play, a powerful header by Malick Evouna, turning in a fantastic cross from Bulot, giving Sanou no chance.
Gabon look good for a quarter-final place after this showing but Burkina Faso will also see themselves fully capable of also reaching the last eight. Coach Paul Put will need his strike force to execute more clinically in the next two games though if they are to have any chance of achieving this.