Gabon saw off the challenge of regional rivals DR Congo with a lone goal in Group D’s second match day at the ongoing 2014 African Nations Champions in South Africa on Saturday in Polokwane.
An early goal in the second minute from Erwin Nguema would eventually seal matters for the Panthers, who however, suffered intense domination from the Leopards during much of the clash.
Gabon began with high pace and immediately launched men in the Leopards’ area, obtaining a corner kick from which Erwin Nguema headed home the opener after just two minutes.
DR Congo’s Eddy Emomo failed to convert a nicely placed chip from Ndombe Mumbele in front of goal to even the score line by the quarter hour mark, as his side maintained ascendancy.
Eric Nkulukuta had countless one-on-one's against Gabon goalkeeper Bitseki, who kept coming out the winner, helping his side to conserve their slim 1-0 lead into the half hour mark.
However, interplay between Kasusula and Mbidi could have finished beautifully in Gabon’s back net but defender Cyrille Avebe stood up to the effort to end the first half with his side still leading.
DR Congo began the second half with two substitutions, showing strong determination to pull level. Don’t forget the two Central African teams are bitter rivals at any category – junior, senior, female.
However, Gabon would grab the first goal chance of the second half when Bonaventure Sokambi’s drive inside the box was thwarted by goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba.
Eddy Emomo, who scored DR Congo’s only goal against Mauritania in their opener, had another good chance to repeat the same action against Gabon but his finish was dragged too wide.
The Congolese multiplied scary actions powered by the likes of Jean Kasusula, Joel Kimwaki and Makusu Mundele but their efforts were restricted to some flimsy shots and poor finishing.
Emomo’s strike by the 87th minute put an end to the Leopards’ unfaltering toil for an equaliser as the Gabonese would control the rest of the session until the final whistle.
Gabon now move to top of Group D with four points followed by DR Congo on three, ahead of the Burundi-Mauritania clash.