By Afeseh Apong
▪️Jim Émeline Ngowet Allevinah and Boupendza were on target for the Panthers
▪️Gabon and Morocco are through to the eighth final
The Panthers of Gabon have played a two all tie with the Atlas lions of Morocco, in their final group C game at AFCON 2022.
The Panthers of Gabon came into Tuesday’s game on the back of a difficult week in their camp, that saw Captain Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and play maker Mario Lemina, been send back to their clubs after the could not feature in their two previous games, reportedly because of Covid-19.
The Atlas lions came in to the game as book marker’s favorite, but it was instead Gabon who played free flowing football in the opening segments of the game.
Gabon’s Jim Allevinah picked up a pass from goalkeeper Jean Noel Amonome at the 22nd minute, and slotted a low shot to the bottom of Monir El Kajoui’s net, to put the Panthers one goal up.
Morocco was forced into a desperate substitution, with Ilias Chair ceding his place to Selim Amallah, just after the half an hour mark.
Goalkeeper Monir El Kajoui made several vital saves in the closing minutes of the first half, to keep the score line at one nil.
12 minutes into the second half, coach Vahid Halilhodzic brought in Soufiane Boufal and Aymen Barkok to replace Ayoub El Kaabi and Faycal Fajr.
Continuous pressure from Morocco, won them a penalty at the 73 minutes. Soufiane Boufal stepped up and wrong sided goalkeeper Jean Noel Amonome.
Gabon resorted to counter attackers, and it paid off at the 82nd minute, when Aaron Salem Boupendza put the Panthers ahead for the second time in the game.
The Atlas lions responded almost immediately. A counter attack from Morocco earned them a free kick on the edge of the Gabonese box. Achraf Hakimi whipped it in to draw the game level again.
Tarik Tissoudali and Romain Saïss were late substitutions for Morocco, as Ounahi and Sofian Chakla made way.
For Gabon, Patrice Neveu gave few minutes of game time to Kevin Mayi and Axel Meye, with two of his key elements Jim Allevinah and Boupendza taken off.
A two all tie sanctioned the thrilling encounter, as Morocco and Gabon sails through to the eighth final. Morocco finished top of the group with seven points, while Gabon is second with five points.
In the other group C game played at the Roumde Adja stadium in Garoua, Comoros defeated the black stars 3#2. Ghana is out of the competition.
Gabon will face Burkina Faso in the round of 16.
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