The Herald (Zimbabwe)

Auba carries Gabon’s hopes


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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