Gabon/Cameroon: Cameroon Shatters Host Gabon’s #AFCON2017 Dream

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Hosts Gabon’s worst fears came true on Sunday night when the country was bundled out of the 2017 African Nations Cup following a 0-0 draw with Cameroon in Libreville.

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Gabon were unbeaten through their Group A campaign, but three draws were not enough to book a quarterfinal place and they become just the fourth host nation in the 60-year history of the continental showpiece to go out in the pool stage after Tunisia (1994), Ivory Coast (1984) and Ethiopia (1976).

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There was some bitter irony to the drama that played out as well. The side has been so reliant on star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a number of years now.

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But when it mattered most for the team, he missed an absolute sitter in the closing minutes, putting what looked a routine finish into an empty goal at the back post wide of goal.

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It was a horror moment for the French-born forward, who also missed a decisive penalty in a quarterfinal shoot-out with Mali in 2012 when Gabon were co-hosts.

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But in truth, Gabon deserved little more in this tournament as they laboured through their matches, at some times appearing disinterested.

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Spanish coach Jose Antonio Camacho was only appointed 43 days before the tournament started in what was a chaotic build-up.

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“I am sorry for the fans and for the team,” Camacho said. “We went out to win the game but football is not fair, and we hit the post in injury time before their goalkeeper made a great save from the follow-up.”

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The coach also refused to resign on the spot, but said he would consider his future.

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“It is too soon to talk about the future. We are sad that we have not gone through.”

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Cameroon coach Hugo Broos was understandably delighted with the progression as he seeks to lead Cameroon to a first title since 2002.

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They will face the might of Senegal in the quarterfinals with the west Africans already assured of top-spot in Group B, and the Indomitable Lions finishing second behind Burkina Faso in Group A.

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“Every game we have played has been against a motivated team who fought to the end. Now we are qualified and we are very happy. Everything is open,” Belgian Broos said.

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“Senegal are maybe the best team in the tournament but this is only words. If we play with a big heart like we always do, and have a better beginning of the game and end of the game – not like today – then there will be something great for us in the quarterfinal.”

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