Hosts Gabon failed to make it to the knockout stage of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) 2017 after they drew Cameroon in a goalless affair in their final group match at the Stade de l'Amitié, Libreville, on Sunday (January 22). Gabon failed to win a single game in the tournament despite playing in the home conditions, leaving their fans dejected. In another game of Group A, Burkina Faso defeated Guinea-Bissau 2-0 to advance to the quarters as the table toppers.
Cameroon qualified for the last-eight stage as the second team from the group. Both Burkina Faso and Cameroon finished with five points but the former finished first owing to a superior goal difference.
Gabon went into the match against Cameroon knowing nothing less than a win would do them good. They even had their chances to rise to the occasion but couldn't pull it off. Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, their only player to have scored in this tournament, had an opening to give his team an early lead but misfired. Gabon had another chance towards the end when Didier N'Dong set up an effort with Denis Bouanga but ended up hitting the goalpost. N'Dong tried to reattempt scoring from the rebound but Cameroon's goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa saved it.
This is the second time in two consecutive Afcon tournaments that Gabon have failed to make it to the next round.
Cameroon will take on Senegal, who qualified as the winners of Group B with one game to spare, in Franceville on January 28, in the quarter-finals. The opponents of Burkina Faso, the surprise group winners, will be decided on Monday (Jan 23) as Tunisia, Algeria and Zimbabwe vie for the second spot in Group B. Burkina Faso has never lifted the title and their best performance was finishing the runners-up in the 2013 edition when they lost to Nigeria in the final.
In Sunday's game, Burkina Faso took the lead in the 12th minute after a defensive mix-up by Guinea-Bissau saw defender Rudinilson Silva heading past his own keeper Jonas Mendes. Bertrand Traore, who is on loan at Ajax from Chelsea, scored the second goal for Burkina Faso in the 58th minute with a calm left-foot strike.
Guinea-Bissau had a few chances to get back into the match when Piqueti came close to scoring a goal but an alert Burkina Faso keeper Koffi Kouakou was on his toes to deny him a chance.
Juary Soares, who had equalised the game versus Gabon in the dying moments, came close to repeat the act in the second half when a corner found the Guinea-Bissau defender unmarked in the six-yard box but Abdou Traore threw himself in front of the goal-bound shot.