African Cup drama kicked up a notch by Gabon win

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African Cup drama kicked up a notch by Gabon win

LUBANGO, Angola - Hull City striker Daniel Cousin was the hero as Gabon caused the biggest upset so far in a shock-filled Africa Cup of Nations by defeating Cameroon 1-0 on Wednesday in the first Group D clash. Cousin scored early in the first half and the Gabonese survived numerous goalmouth scares to record only their second victory in four appearances at the biennial continental showcase.

Cameroon, four-time champions and twice runners-up, entered the game as hot favorites to secure maximum points, having comfortably beaten Gabon twice in qualifiers for the Angola tournament. Veteran Cameroon central defender Rigobert Song made history when the match kicked off by becoming the first footballer to play in eight Nations Cup tournaments. The 33-year-old from Turkish club Trabzonspor overtook current Egypt captain Ahmed Hassan and two retired stars, compatriot Hossam Hassan and Ivorian Alain Gouamene.

Cameroon started by taking the game to Gabon, and Achille Emana was unlucky after eight minutes when his shot was pushed on to the post and away for a corner by goalkeeper Didier Ovono. But the game took a dramatic twist on 17 minutes when the Indomitable Lions failed to clear a cross and Cousin darted through to push the ball wide of goalkeeper Idriss Kameni and give Gabon a shock lead.

Going in front boosted the confidence of outsiders Gabon and they retained the advantage until half-time with reasonable comfort as Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o failed to make his expected impact. Geremi Njitap did worry Ovono with a free kick and Eto’o finally came to life just before the break with a dribble past several defenders, but the ball was eventually cleared. Cameroon France-born coach Paul le Guen made a change in central midfield for the second half, introducing Tchoyi Somen for Landry Nguemo and the new face was soon making his presence felt.

Ovono, who once battled to make a living playing in El Salvador, was in inspired form and did well to parry a close-range header off a corner and foiled Eto’o when the Inter Milan striker seemed poised to equalize. Frustration crept into the game as Cameroon continued to dominate possession only to be thwarted by Ovono, who used his feet to push away a close-range Emana drive at the expense of a corner.

Gabon time wasting cost midfielder Stephane Nguema and striker Roguy Meye yellow cards with the latter booked for taking too long to leave the field when substituted. AFP

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