By Victor Okoye
Hosts, Gabon on Sunday crashed out of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) at the group stage after playing out a 0-0 draw with Cameroon, who progressed to the quarter-finals.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed a great chance for Gabon early on when he bundled the ball wide from two yards.
His teammate Denis Bouanga brought saves from Fabrice Ondoa as Gabon poured forward in the early stages.
Bouanga was denied a last-gasp winner that would have put Gabon through, when his shot crashed back off the post.
The rebound sat up perfectly for Didier N’Dong but his shot was pushed over the bar brilliantly by Cameroon goalkeeper Ondoa as he was picking himself up the floor.
Gabon went into the game knowing they had to win to guarantee their qualification from Group A but they go out of the competition after three draws.
Burkina Faso are the other quarter-finalists from the group after they beat debutants Guinea-Bissau 2-0, a result which put them top of the table above Cameroon by goal difference.
Borussia Dortmund star Aubameyang, one of the most prolific strikers in world football, will now have another painful memory from the Nations Cup to add to his crucial penalty miss in 2012 that cost his side a place in the semi-finals.
He will replay over and over the moment in this match when he somehow got his feet tangled and put the ball wide of a gaping goal when trying to convert Bouanga’s low cross to the back post.
After their fast start did not bring a goal, Gabon’s belief and confidence drained.
They lacked the guile and creativity to break Cameroon down and they created virtually nothing until that late drama.
The Indomitable Lions were little better in what was a poor match and were unable to put Gabon out of their misery earlier.
They came close through an Ambroise Oyongo shot that clipped the post and a first-half header from Adolphe Teikeu that went narrowly wide.
But Cameroon have a chance to improve, while Gabon must face up to their poor performances.
In the other Group A game also played on Sunday, Burkina Faso progressed to the AFCON quarter-finals as group winners after seeing off Guinea-Bissau.
A defensive mix up by debutants and rank outsiders, Guinea-Bissau gifted Burkina Faso the lead in the 12 minute, as defender Rudinilson Silva headed past onrushing goalkeeper Jonas Mendes and into his own net.
On-loan Ajax forward Bertrand Traore doubled the advantage with a composed left-footed finish after the break in the 58th minute.
Guinea-Bissau, making their Africa Cup of Nations debut in the tournament, looked the more likely to open the scoring, before handing Burkina Faso the lead.
Rudinilson’s header looked to have crossed the line, but Prejuce Nakoulma thumped in to make sure after Guinea-Bissau attempted to scramble it away.
The dangerous Piqueti went closest to levelling, but Burkina Faso keeper Koffi Kouakou was able to push the winger’s low strike wide of the far post.
Juary Soares could have equalised in the second half when a corner found the Guinea-Bissau defender unmarked at in the six-yard box, but Abdou Traore threw himself in front of the goal-bound shot.
Burkina Faso immediately went down to the other end to increase their lead, with Nakoulma setting up Traore, on loan at Ajax from Chelsea, to slide a finish beyond Mendes.
NAN reports that at the end of the Group A round of matches, Burkina Faso (+2) and Cameroon (+1) with five points each finished as group winners and runners-up respectively.
Hosts Gabon with three points and Guinea-Bissau with one point were eliminated from the tournament