Africa Cup of Nations – Group A
Little Guinea Bissau with only 32 professional football matches to their name produced an upset in the first match in Group A against the hosts Gabon with a 1-1 draw after snatching a stoppage time goal to rattle Gabon.
Libya were of course supposed to hold the event after changing years with South Africa but due to the war there the 2017 tournament was moved to Gabon who had previously hosted the event with Equatorial Guinea only six years previously. Confused? Yup me too.
Gabon started the opening match of the tournament with little composure losing the ball at regular intervals and looking nervous against a Guinea Bissau team who were obviously out to defend from the off. The first half was a major disappointment with both sides playing on hot coals. It was a slow and laborious start to the African Cup of Nations but Guinea Bissau were structured and playing to a game plan of smothering Gabon and it was working. They matched Gabon in all areas including the 4-2-3-1 formation with the aim of cancelling them out and it was successful.
Both managers must have read the riot act at half time as the second half was a much more engaging affair. With both teams deciding they could attack if they really wanted to.
8 minutes into the second period it was that man Aubameyang who seems to score goals for fun in the Bundesliga who capitalized with a goal to put Gabon ahead. If the floodgates were expected to open at this point they didn’t. Guinea Bissau dug deep with a fair amount of resolve, some quality and a set of tactics that eventually worked for them.
Gabon continued to attack looking for the second and by doing so the game opened up for the last half hour. An attack with a volley over the bar on 69 minutes was close but Guinea Bissau responded with a noteworthy Toni Silva turn and shot that came off the Gabon keeper who up until then had enjoyed a relatively quiet evening. Three minutes later Nanissio shot wide for the underdogs. With time running down on the clock Guinea Bissau had to go for it and Mendes the centre midfielder went close again with a header that disappointingly went straight to Gabon goalkeeper Ovono and the man with the name like toilet cleaner fluid gratefully accepted this let off. Ovono could do nothing about the equalizer in injury time when a Guinea Bissau free kick was swung in and J. Soares who had recently been booked headed into the Gabon net to the consternation of the Gabon fans. A draw was a fair result and keeps both sides in with a generous chance of progressing further.
Gabon started the competition rather unconvincingly while a draw for Guinea Bissau was almost the perfect start to their ambitions of qualifying for the second round knockout stages.