Auba car­ries Gabon’s hopes

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

LI­BRE­VILLE. - Pro­lific striker Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang will carry a heavy bur­den in the African Cup of Na­tions soc­cer fi­nals with the hopes of the host na­tion rest­ing squarely on his shoul­ders.

The Borus­sia Dort­mund marks­man en­joys megas­tar sta­tus in Gabon, who host the fi­nals for the se­cond time in five years, and the 27-year-old is ex­pected to de­liver the goals that will give the coun­try a re­al­is­tic chance of a first African ti­tle.

He has al­ready brought an un­ex­pected pro­file to a coun­try short of any soc­cer suc­cess by win­ning the 2015 African Foot­baller of the Year award, cel­e­brated in Li­bre­ville as if Gabon had won a ma­jor tour­na­ment.

Aubameyang flew from the cer­e­mony in Nige­ria to show off tro­phy and was given a heroic, near hys­ter­i­cal re­cep­tion, with live tele­vi­sion cov­er­age of his ar­rival and re­cep­tion. “I did well to choose Africa (over France) and I can’t dare to imag­ine what it will be like if we win the Na­tions Cup at home,” he said in an in­ter­view with French sports daily L’Equipe yes­ter­day.

The 27-year-old was born in Laval and played one match for the France Un­der-21 team but then chose to play for Gabon, where his fa­ther cap­tained the side at their first Na­tions Cup ap­pear­ance in 1994.

Since his de­but at the age of 20 in 2009, Aubameyang has been the key el­e­ment of the team but his ex­ploits in the Bun­desliga have el­e­vated him to an al­most god­like sta­tus in the cen­tral African coun­try.

“It’s all about Aubameyang and what he can de­liver for us,” said stu­dent Michel On­doma yes­ter­day as the team be­gan their fi­nal prepa­ra­tions for the open­ing match against Guinea Bis­sau the fol­low­ing day. -

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