Aaron Boupendza scored the only goal of the match for the Panthers as they began their Group C campaign with a win over the Coelacanths in Cameroon.
The Panthers started the match brightly as they looked to pile pressure on the Coelacanths, who were playing their first-ever match in the AFCON finals
, but the tournament debutants looked compact and solid at back.
It took something special from Gabon to penetrate the Comoros defence in the 16th minute. Louis Ameka controlled a long ball from goalkeeper Joel Noel Amonome brilliantly, before setting up Aaron Boupendza who scored a stunning goal.
The Qatar-based striker, who was leading the Panthers’ attack in the absence Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, beat keeper Ali Ahamada from a tight angle with his left-footed shot to hand Gabon a 1-0 lead.
Comoros then controlled the game as they looked to level matters, but they found it difficult to break down the Gabonese defence with Amonome dealing well with long balls from the Coelacanths. The score was 1-0 to Gabon at the interval.
The Coelacanths continued to push for the equalising goal after the restart with their coach Amir Abdou having introduced Cyprus-based midfielder Fouad Bachirou and SO Cholet forward Faiz Mattoir.
Both teams launched attacks with neither side happy to sit back and invite pressure. Denis Bouanga’s effort was well saved by Ahamada and at the other end, Moussa Djoumoi’s powerful low shot was blocked by Amonome at the other end.
Patrice Neveu, the Gabon head coach, then pulled out goalscorer Boupendza and he introduced David Sambissa, who is a defender by trade. Gabon were then able to contain Comoros and ultimately, they emerged 1-0 winners on the night.
Gabon (1) 1 (Boupendza 16′)
Comoros: Ahamada, M’Dahoma (Abdou 77′), Zahary, Kassim (Mattoir 46′), I.Mohamed (Bachirou 46′), Abdullah (Mogni 77′), M.Youssouf (Djoumoi 67′), Bakari, M’Changama, B. Youssouf, El Fardou.
Gabon: Amonome, Obiang, Palun, Ecuele, Obissa, Poko, Kanga, Bouanga, Ameka (Ngouali 58′), Allevinah (Eneme-Ella 66′), Boupendza (Sambissa 79′).