Gabon and Burkina Faso settled for a 1-1 draw in their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) clash played at the Stade de I’Amitie in the Gabonese city of Libreville on Wednesday night.
As a result, tournament hosts Gabon and Burkina Faso remain second and third respectively in the Group A standings with two points each – having also recorded 1-1 draws in their opening games.
The Stallions of Burkina Faso were dealt a major blow just nine minutes into the game as their star midfielder Jonathan Pitroipa went down injured. He was replaced by Prejuce Nakoulma.
It took only 13 minutes for Turkey-based Nakoulma to make an impact as he beat two defenders before firing past Gabon goalkeeper Didier Ovono to make it 1-0 to Burkina Faso following a quick move.
The Panthers of Gabon were also forced into making a first-half change as Johann Obiang injured his knee. He was replaced by Benjamin Ze Ondo in the 34th minute.
Burkina Faso keeper Herve Koffi then came off his line to try and intercept a through ball, but he fouled Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the box and the Panthers were awarded a penalty.
The Gabon captain dusted himself off and tucked the ball into the back of the net to make it 1-1 in the 38th minute; beating Koffi, who was booked after conceding a penalty.
The momentum was now with the Panthers with the break fast approaching, but the Stallions contained them until Tunisian referee Youssef Essrayri blew the halftime whistle with the two teams locked at 1-1.
Stallions coach Paulo Duarte decided to introduce Ajax Amsterdam forward Bertrand Traore 10 minutes into the second half as Burkina Faso looked to restore their lead.
Banou Diawara, the Burkina Faso striker, nearly made it 2-1 to his side from a deflected free-kick on the hour-mark, but Gabon shot-stopper Ovono reacted quickly and made a great save. – BBC