posted by www.equatorialguineaonline.com – January 23rd, 2012
In Gabon, the new mantra on everyone’s lips is, “if Equatorial Guinea can do it, we Gabonese also can”, in reference to the Nzalang Nacional’s exhilarating 1-0 victory over Libya on Saturday in Bata and Gabon’s opener against Niger on Monday, which is now causing excitement across Libreville and Franceville.
Being a close neighbour with strong socio-cultural ties, the Gabonese were supporting Equatorial Guinea against the north Africans, but very few would have placed bets in favour of the tiny central African nation, which was playing its first ever Africa Cup of Nations game.
The Nzalang Nacional’s combative and entertaining play, topped off with a one-goal victory, sparked off great excitement in Gabon, yielding a kind of assurance and good omen for the Panthers’ forthcoming match against debutants Niger on Monday at the Stade d’Amitie in Libreville.
Gabon are participating in their fifth Afcon and have struggled to position themselves in the central African region historically dominated by the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon and others such as DR Congo. Carrying off Monday’s encounter against the Mena would more than create a bright future for the co-hosts into the rest of the competition and also keep up the tradition of the host team winning its first game.
Coach Gernot Rohr urged his players at a press conference on Sunday in Libreville to emulate the good example of Equatorial Guinea and also warned them to learn from Senegal’s loss against Zambia by not underestimating the west Africans.
A member of the central committee of the Panthers’ supporters union told Goal.com that the general excitement of hosting an Africa Cup of Nations was shifting from merely welcoming visitors to the country to winning the 28th edition of the pan-African football fiesta.
“Before, Gabonese were only happy that the 2012 Afcon was coming to their country, but after Equatorial Guinea’s victory against Libya, local supporters and officials are beginning to believe in themselves that something good could happen along the way if the national team adopts the kind of fighting spirit our neighbours rolled out the other day,” Jean-Ive Manga said.
Gabon will begin their campaign against Niger on Monday night.