15 January 2017

Africa: Draws, Wild Dogs and Mathematics On CAN 2017 Day One

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, right, put Afcon hosts Gabon into the lead with the first goal of the 2017 finals but Guinea-Bissau came back to equalize.

Home fans' expectations were dashed by a draw on the opening day of the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) in Libreville. And there was a tie between Cameroon and Burkina Faso, too.

Here are five things we learned:

Don't get the captain to score. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the hallowed one as far as Gabonese football is concerned. And really, why not. He plays for Borussia Dortmund, one of the world's most prestigious clubs, and is linked with other illustrious teams and scores. He netted the first goal of the tournament and Gabon looked set fair for victory until Juary Soares popped up and equalised for Guinea Bissau in the closing stages. Benjamin Moukandjo, the newly anointed Cameroon captain, scored the first goal for his team in their opening Group A match against Burkina Faso. It was a beauty of a strike. Direct from a free kick. Goalkeeper Herve Koffi Kouakou dived valiantly but the ball rasped into the net. Sadly for both skippers neither of their goals were the winners. The two ties ended 1-1.

Great, expectations. You have to feel for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He doesn't have a Dickens of a chance really. There is massive pressure on the lad. He is Gabon's record goal scorer, the captain and the poster boy of the 31st Africa Cup of Nations. He scores and everyone says, "Yep, that's what you do." The side doesn't win and the fans boo. There were catcalls from the home supporters at the end of the opening match against Guinea Bissau. Just as well Gabon only drew.

One man's draw is another man's day. This sounds like an ageing gunslinger's line from a spaghetti western. But the 1-1 result between Gabon and Guinea Bissau was historic. Guinea Bissau are appearing at their first Africa Cup of Nations. So when Juary Soares levelled late in the game, there was rejoicing not only on the field and in a small section of the Stade de l'Amitié but also back home. Thousands were dancing in the streets of the capital Bissau. We're sporting at the review, so congratulations to Soares and the rest of the Guinea Bissau team for their first point ever at the Cup of Nations.

We're also honest at the review and are therefore forced to admit bias when it comes to Guinea Bissau. We love their nickname, "the Wild Dogs". Cameroon are "the Indomitable Lions", Uganda are "the Cranes" and Côte d'Ivoire are "the Elephants" but there's something refreshingly feral about Guinea Bissau's nickname. "We knew Gabon have an excellent team and one of the best players in Africa and in Europe," said coach Baciro Cande after the game. "We have our limits. But we had ambitions coming here and we will try to go as far as possible." There's a word for that kind of attitude. Do I really need to say?

Jose Antonio Camacho could go far as a mathematician. The Gabon coach was obviously disappointed after seeing his side draw. They had to settle for one point after Guinea Bissau equalised in the dying seconds. "We had three points but lost two of them," said Camacho. Then again the Spaniard might make it far as a relativist. "Our chances of qualifying are the same as if we had won," he said. The review never had a head for odds but has always been game for a theory.

More on This

Panthers in Trouble As Underdog Newbies Force a Draw

Gabon paid the price for not closing out the game when they were held to a 1-1 draw by plucky minnows Guinea-Bissau in… Read more »

Copyright © 2017 Radio France Internationale. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.