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Preview: Ghana vs. Gabon

After being in the news for all the wrong reasons in the past couple of weeks, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is back for Gabon as Les Panthères take on Ghana in Friday’s crucial Group C matchup at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Despite missing the Arsenal striker, Gabon managed to obtain a 1-0 win against Comoros in their opening match and a sense of confidence has been restored to a team in desperate need. Meanwhile, it is a different story for Ghanaian supporters following the Black Stars’ defeat to Morocco with the team having plenty of questions to answer on the pitch.

Ghana’s attack was once again ineffective in their opening AFCON match, but it does not look like coach Milovan Rajevac will be making radical changes to his squad. Captain André Ayew will be fit for action after taking a nasty blow to the head against Morocco, taking a day off from training before returning before Friday’s game. Ayew’s brother Jordan will likely remain in the starting lineup despite a lengthy scoring slump as Rajevac counts on his veterans to regain their form while inspiring young attackers like Kamaldeen Sulemana, who must make his presence felt for the Black Stars. Rajevac acknowledged that captain Thomas Partey did not have his best match against Morocco, but expressed faith in the Arsenal midfielder to prove himself among the best players in the competition.

Aubameyang’s return is big news for the Gabonese team but center midfielder Mario Lemina is another crucial piece who is back in the squad from Covid. However, several new positive tests were returned including manager Patrice Neveu as well as starting defenders Lloyd Palun and Sidney Obissa. Goalkeeper Jean-Noel Amomome appears to be out as well due to an ankle injury, but defensive leader Bruno Ecuele Manga will be in the lineup after serious fears that an injury sustained in training would keep him out. Neveu will have to dig deep into his defensive depth for Friday’s important clash, but it remains to be seen if a woefully underperforming Ghanaian attack can exploit the opportunity.

Check out news items from Ghanaian and Gabonese media to see who will be available and who may make the difference on Friday.

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