Gabon were impressive in the qualifiers, losing out on a World Cup spot to giants Cameroon, but they now have the African Cup of Nations in their sights...
AFCON Apperances: Three (1994,1996, 2000)
AFCON Titles: None
Nicknamed Azingo Nationale, the Gabon national team is controlled by the Fédération Gabonaise de Football. They have never qualified for the World Cup finals, but rose to stardom in the 2010 qualifiers and almost made it to the World Cup.
All their World Cup dreams vanished into thin air as they lost to Togo in their last game, while Cameroon defeated Morocco 2-0 to progress to World showpiece. Gabon's most successful spell in their country's history came between 1994 and 2000, when they qualified for three out of the four African Cup of Nations finals, reaching the quarterfinals in 1996.
They are something of a surprise as qualifiers for the 2010 event, but appear to have found a new lease on life and ran Cameroon close for World Cup qualification in their pool. They have managed just one win in their seven finals matches to date, with a 2-0 success against a much-fancied Zaire side in 1996, but otherwise it has been difficult for the country at the continental showpiece. They are in group D for the competition in Angola, along with Tunisia, Zambia and Cameroon.
Alain Giresse was born on 2 August 1952 in Langoiran, Gironde and the Frenchman will be looking to bolster his CV. He was a French professional football midfielder and played at the 1982 FIFA World Cup (fourth place) and the 1986 FIFA World Cup (third place). He was a member of the Euro 84 winning team, and alongside Michel Platini, Luis Fernández and Jean Tigana formed the legendary "Carré Magique" (Magic Square) in midfield.
His managererial experience is undoubted as he has coached Paris St-Germain, Toulouse and the Georgian national team, while impressing during his time in Africa.
Road To Qualification
Their qualification road was not an easy one as they faced World Cup bound Cameroon and surprise package Togo. After a fine start in Group A, they had to settle for second spot with three wins and three loses to their name.
The skillful Pierre Emerick Aubameyang who was nothing less than spectacular during his first major international game in Morocco will be a headach to most defenders at the Cup of Nations. The French-born player will have to confirm all the hopes vested in him at home and will probably become an overnight hero in Gabon if everything goes according to plan come the big event in Angola. Hull City Strike Daniel Cousin is another player to watch.
The last time they played in this tournament was back in 2000 and they will be looking to do well by at least reaching the 2nd round of the event, with national pride at stake.
If they could continue with their brilliant form that nearly took them to the World Cup in South Africa, then they are assured to reach the knockout stages of the tournament in January. On paper Tunisia and Cameroon are favourites to progress, but Gabon can certainly pull a surprise.
Did You Know?
* Gabon withdrew from the African Cup of nations twice in 1974 and 1972 due to political reasons.