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President Ondima lauds Gabon following AFCON exploits

January 21st, 2022 2 min read

Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba has lauded the national football team for progressing to the round of 16 at the the Africa Cup of Nations ongoing here in Cameroon.

Despite enduring challenges in preparations marred by bonus rows The Panthers finished second in round two after a 2-2 draw versus Group ‘C’ winners Morocco.

“Congratulations to our Panthers who qualified for the 8th finals,” Ondima wrote on his socials.

The leader in his message told coach Patrice Neveu’s men that they should know they are going into another competition and must not relent as all the Gabonese people are behind them.

“Be exemplary and make us even more proud,” he added.

At their 8th participation, the Panthers are looking to go pass their quarter-finals stage—the highest they have reached previously; in 1996 and 2012.

The team had a bumpy take off to the tournament in Yaounde earlier this month with players refusing to board a plane from the United Arab Emirates where they had pre-tournament camp, demanding that their bonuses be paid upfront.

When the row over bonuses was finally resolved and the players jetted in Yaounde, they were faced with another problem; their hotel, which according to the team, did not meet their expectations.

The team refused the hotel the Confederation of African Football had reserved for them, preferring another facility that was not accredited by the continental football governing body.

Last week, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) imposed a Sh2.2 million ($20,000) fine on Gabon for the action which the it said was in violation safety and security directives.

Though also hit by Covid-19 with stars, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mario Lemina not being able to take part in the competition because of the virus, the Panthers still cruised through the group stages recoding a victory in their first outing against Comoros and settling for draws against Ghana and Morocco.