THE DAY REPLAYED - CAF Africa Cup of Nations debutants Guinea-Bissau surprised tournament hosts Gabon by holding them to a 1-1 draw in the opening match of the 2017 edition in Libreville. Saturday’s other Group A contest also ended in a 1-1 result between Burkina Faso and Cameroon. FIFA.com recaps the opening day's action.
Gabon 1-1 Guinea-Bissau
Burkina Faso 1-1 Cameroon
It will be a day that supporters of Guinea-Bissau will never forget, as Os Djurtus stunned their hosts by earning a late draw in the competition’s curtain-raiser in the Gabonese capital. From Zezinho’s 90th-minute free kick, Juary Soares’s well-placed header into the far corner of the Gabon goal silenced the home crowd at the Stade de l’Amitie. It was the least that the tournament debutants deserved from Saturday’s contest, despite being a goal down following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s strike for Gabon shortly after half-time. The Panthers captain easily converted Denis Bouanga’s low cross at the far post for the opening goal of the tournament.
The other Group A contest also ended in stalemate, as Burkina Faso overturned a first-half deficit to earn a point in their opening match versus Cameroon. Despite the absence of several key players at Gabon 2017, captain Benjamin Moukandjo put the Indomitable Lions in front with a superb free kick from the edge of the Burkina Faso penalty box on 35 minutes. Though Cameroon had chances to seal victory after half-time, it was the Stallions that looked the stronger side by the full-time whistle after Issoufou Dayo headed home on the rebound following substitute Banou Diawara’s free kick into the Cameroon box with a quarter of an hour remaining.
Highlight of the day
Few would have given Guinea-Bissau a chance to make footballing history on Saturday. Despite trailing late on to Gabon, the resilience of Os Djurtus shone through, as Soares’s heroics sparked joyous celebrations from the Guinea-Bissau players and coaching staff at the final whistle.
52 - The minute of the first goal scored in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, with Gabon skipper Aubameyang finding the scoresheet for the tournament hosts early in the second half.
Sunday 15 January (all times local)
The winners of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Gabon 2017 will represent the continent at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017.