Thursday Aug 27, 2020. 15:00
Gabon coach Patrice Neveu believes that captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can lead the team to the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations and 2022 Fifa World Cup finals.
The 31-year-old striker is Gabon’s all-time record goalscorer with 25 goals from 65 international games and he is set to lead his nation when the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers resume soon.
Aubameyang is coming off a successful 2019/20 season which saw him inspire his English club Arsenal to a FA Cup triumph as team captain.
“When I arrived, he was a little hesitant about committing to the national team for many reasons. I talked to him and he agreed to stay. He’s the captain and a great goalscorer, and he proves this year after year,” Neveu told FIFA’s official website.
“He does a lot of great things for Arsenal, and so the people of Gabon expect a lot more from him in the national team. My role is to create the optimal conditions for him to best serve the group.
“He’s a superstar, but when he joins up with the national team, he treats everyone as his friends. I won’t deny that he has stipulated some requirements for the national team, especially at an organisational level.
“I hope he can do for us what he does for Arsenal and help us in the upcoming Africa Cup and World Cup qualifiers. As a coach, I’m very happy to work with a great player like him.”
Gabon are currently placed second on their AFCON qualifying group (Group D) having recorded one win and one draw.
They will face Egypt, Libya and Angola in their World Cup qualifying group as they look to qualify for the global tournament for the first time.
“Our first target is to make the 2022 Afcon in Cameroon. Everyone in Gabon was disappointed to miss out on the most recent edition of the tournament, so a return is a must for us,” Neveu continued.
“Egypt are favourites in this section because they’re more experienced and have high-quality players such as Mohamed Salah.
“However, I think our team can spring a surprise. We have to believe in our ability to finish top of the group and make the play-off round. We’re going to have a tough game in Egypt, but we can get a positive result there.
“We have some top-level players too, and when we focus on team work, we can get good results, despite our squad lacking some strength in depth, both in terms of the quantity and quality of our back-up players.”