Final preparations are under way in Gabon’s capital Libreville, as the country prepares to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
With only a week to go before the tournament kicks off on January 14, authorities in the country are rushing to put finishing touches on the four stadiums due to host the tournament.
Gabon is set to play the opening game against Guinea Bissau in Libreville, and will go into the tournament with a new coach, after former Spain manager Jose Antonio Camacho signed last month to replace ex-Portugal international Jorge Costa.
This means a lot to us, because we will get a chance to be known internationally. We will be able to also show the world other parts of the country.
However, this year’s tournament has been overshadowed by the aftermath of Gabon’s disputed elections held last August that saw Ali Bongo retain power.
“For me, Gabon doesn’t need this African Nations Cup with all the financial problems that we have and seeing that the last elections took place in chaos, Gabon doesn’t need this tournament. It didn’t bring us anything in 2012, so I can’t understand why they are organizing a new one,” said one local resident, Fanny.
“This means a lot to us, because we will get a chance to be known internationally. We will be able to also show the world other parts of the country, because the matches will not only take place in the capital city. This event makes us proud, “ added another resident, Tresor Elbaz.
Gabon’s Panthers 23-man squad features the likes of Sunderland midfielder Didier Ndong, African Footballer of the year, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Juventus midfileder Mario Lemina, who are due to face off with four times winners Cameroon in Group A.
“We hope that all goes well with the event, the stadiums are almost ready and we hope that our team will have a good performance this year,” said football fan, Paul Marie.
AFCON: A guide to Gabon 2017,, https://t.co/lAHDKg3N1Z— THE MINION KXNG (@Unilagdope) January 7, 2017
Football fans in the country hope the tournament being held on home soil will boost the Panthers’ chances of winning the trophy for the first time.
This year’s edition of the biennial tournament will be held for three weeks and ends on February 05.