Johannesburg (AFP) – Gabon coach Patrice Neveu has hailed Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as a “humble superstar” ahead of an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against the Gambia Thursday.
Aubameyang is the stand-out player in the Panthers squad and the French handler will be looking to him for goals in the top-of-the-table Group D clash in Franceville.
“Pierre-Emerick is a superstar, but when he comes to the national squad he treats everyone as a friend and is humble,” said the coach.
“He does a lot of fantastic things for Arsenal so the people of Gabon expect a lot from him when he represents the country.
“It is a privilege to work with a great player like him and we are hoping he will help us be successful in our two matches against the Gambians.”
The 2015 African Footballer of the Year will hope a change of scenery from London to southeastern Gabon will bring a change of luck as he struggled during a 3-0 home loss to Aston Villa Sunday.
Here, AFP Sport rounds up football news from Africa.
Famara Diedhiou from English second division club Bristol City has withdrawn from the Senegal squad for Cup of Nations qualifiers against Guinea-Bissau after contracting Covid-19.
The 27-year-old forward scored a hat-trick when Senegal trounced eSwatini 4-1 in the previous matchday 12 months ago.
Injured Keita Balde from Sampdoria has also pulled out, but coach Aliou Cisse has plenty of attacking options, starting with Liverpool sharpshooter Sadio Mane.
Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi has included nine of the team that won the 2019 Cup of Nations in the squad for home and away qualifiers against Zimbabwe.
There is no place for attacker Youcef Belaili as he has been clubless while Russia-based defender Mehdi Zeffane is out of favour.
The Desert Foxes are unbeaten in 20 competitive and friendly internationals since losing away to Benin in October 2018.
Eight of the Democratic Republic of Congo squad chosen for two Cup of Nations matches against Angola have withdrawn due to Covid-19 worries, passport problems and injuries.
Chinese club Beijing Sinobo Guoan have refused to release the Leopards’ star forward Cedric Bakambu, citing coronavirus pandemic concerns.
The headaches for coach Christian Nsengi-Biembe did not end there as one of the replacement forwards, Britt Assombalonga from English second-tier club Middlesbrough, is injured and cannot travel.
Gambia coach Tom Saintfiet says he feels “like a child who has just received a birthday present” as he prepares for long-awaited Cup of Nations qualifiers against Gabon.
The Belgian has guided the Scorpions to the top of Group D, ahead of Gabon, DR Congo and Angola, after surviving a scare against minnows Djibouti in a tie to decide which team made the mini-league phase.
After two 1-1 draws, the outcome was decided by a penalty shootout and the Gambians prevailed to keep alive hopes of a first appearance at a Cup of Nations tournament.
Orlando Pirates beat arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs 2-0 through goals from Fortune Makaringe and Linda Mntambo to complete a 5-0 aggregate semi-final victory in the early season MTN 8 knockout competition.
The outcomes of the latest Soweto derbies were a far cry from the usual close scorelines in the 161 matches between them since 1970.
While Pirates have benefited from a number of close-season signings, Chiefs cannot buy until mid-2021 because of a FIFA ban after they illegally signed Malagasy Arohasina ‘Dax’ Andrianarimanana.
Egypt coach Hossam el Badry has added six Zamalek players to his squad for crucial home and away Cup of Nations clashes with Togo.
He chose goalkeeper Mohamed Abou-Gabal, defenders Mahmoud Alaa and Mahmoud Hamdy, midfielders Tarek Hamed and Ahmed ‘Zizo’ Sayed and forward Mostafa Mohamed after the club reached the CAF Champions League final.
Record seven-time African champions Egypt could only draw with Kenya and the Comoros in Group G, leaving them third and only the top two finishers go the finals in Cameroon.
Lassina Traore, who bagged five goals when Ajax Amsterdam scored a Dutch league record 13-0 win recently, is in the Burkina Faso squad for home and away Cup of Nations qualifiers with Malawi.
The forwards who will be competing with him for starting places are two who share the same surname — Bertrand Traore from Aston Villa and Eric Traore from Egyptian outfit Pyramids.
The Burkinabe Stallions lie second in the Group B, behind Uganda on goal difference and ahead of Malawi and South Sudan.
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