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Angola attempts to score its first goals at home against a reconstructed Gabonese defense in crucial qualifier

Angola and Gabon are two sides who will be all but eliminated from contention for the next round of FIFA World Cup qualifying in the CAF region if they cannot obtain three points on Friday, making the clash in Luanda essentially a “do or die” encounter. Gabon’s failure to defeat Egypt at home last time out leaves them with one point from two games while Angola have yet to score a goal or earn a point following consecutive 1-0 defeats to Libya at home and Egypt on the road. With Group F leaders Libya sitting on six points and Egypt likely to boost their four-point total thus far, anything less than a win is unacceptable.

The Palancas Negras of Angola are in dire straits at the moment. Manager Pedro Gonçalves had plenty to say about the conditions he has to operate under, pointing out that the team’s low budget means they cannot have access to every player based abroad that can contribute to the team. Gonçalves lamented that a veteran like Portuguese-based forward Fredy has to travel in economy to continue representing his country while players like Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang receives the best treatment. For the Portuguese speakers, both Gonçalves and Fredy comment on the match in the Rádio Nacional de Angola links below, with both stating their confidence in the Palancas Negras to give a good performance.

Poor focus on defense cost Gabon two huge points following their concession of an equalizer in the dying seconds of their home match against Egypt, a match in which they appeared to have three points secured. Defensive leader Bruno Ecuele Manga tested positive for Covid-19 and will miss both matchups in the doubleheader, leading manager Patrice Neveu to likely try out natural central midfielders Mario Lemina and Didier Ndong as a center back pairing to alleviate the leaky defense. 25-year-old French-born defender David Sambissa recently switched his international allegiance to Gabon after appearing for Republic of Congo in a friendly earlier this year, and the SC Cambuur player will likely be counted on to fill in at left back.

DIDIER NDONG ET MARIO LEMINA EN DÉFENSE CENTRALE (l’Union)
Les Panthères perdent Ecuele Manga (Gabon Review)

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