Mauritania put in a solid performance on the road to earn a valuable point against Gabon on Wednesday in 2023 AFCON qualifying, moving the West African nation into top spot in Group I with four points in two games. The Gabonese crowd left disappointed as their team huffed and puffed but could not find a breakthrough against a stubborn Mauritanian side who managed to create their own opportunities in an even match. Both teams are on four points with DR Congo and Sudan set to play later on.
Following a week of drama for the Gabonese team with complaints from the players over incompetence from their federation regarding travel arrangements, the Panthers looked a bit tired on Wednesday and struggled to get going. Mauritania nearly got the opener when a far post cross from the right wing was headed wide by Pape Ibnou Ba, who got in the way of the better positioned Idrissa Thiam. Gabon came close in the 40th minute after Guelor Kanga’s free kick picked out center back Lloyd Palun, whose header was somehow tipped wide by a sprawling Babacar Mbaye in the Mauritanian goal.
Mauritania will be much more satisfied with the face that each team could only put one shot on target as things did not get too much better for Gabon in the second half. Both teams had their share of half chances but it was the hosts who came closest to breaking the deadlock. Another good service from a Kanga free kick found center back Aaron Appindingoyé but his glancing header somehow went wide of Mbaye’s goal.
Highlights of the match are below. Gabon will face Sudan twice in September for their next matches while Mauritania are set for a double date with the Leopards of DR Congo.