Little known West African nation Guinea Bissau has shocked Africa Cup of Nation hosts Gabon by snatching an injury-time goal to secure a 1-1 draw in its first ever AFCON match at Stade de l’Amitie overnight.In its debut at the AFCON, A brilliant diving header by Juary Soares in the 90th minute got the Wild Dogs a vital point in a match where it displayed its fighting character and stubborn defence.
Earlier on Gabon had taken a well deserved lead through superstar striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on 52 minutes after dominating territory and possession.
A draw was no less than what Guinea Bissau deserved as it continually hounded their more fancied rivals who itself has the mounting pressure of being the host nation.
The home fans were none too pleased with the overall effort and jeered their side as they made their way off the pitch at full time.
Not many pundits had given the Wild Dogs a chance despite its dream run in qualifying, predicting it would lose all of its group matches. Guinea Bissau seemed to use this as motivation as it arguably had the better of the first half in a half that provided limited opportunities.
Things exploded into life in the second period as first Borussia Dortmund’s Aybameyang found the back of the net seven minutes into the second half to give Gabon the lead after latching onto a smart ball by Denis Bouanga.
He was less clinical with his next chance just a quarter of an hour later. Aybameyang blasted harmlessly over the bar when gifted a one-on-one chance with Guinea Bissau keeper Germano Mendes that would have doubled its lead.
The Wild Dogs had been creating chances up the other end of the field but had nothing to show for it, and when Francis Mendy shot straight at the keeper with seven minutes left, it looked like the visitors would have to settle for a 1-0 defeat.
However, his side won another free-kick at the start of stoppage time and the aptly named Soares soared above the Gabon defenders to connect with a diving header that sent his side and the away fans into raptures.
The high pressing of the Guinea Bissau defence was one of the bright spots in its performance as it consistently put the midfield of Gabon under pressure.
In particular, former Everton youth player Junior Francisco caught the eye with some wonderful tackling.
Gabon will need to show improvement fast and not just rely on its world class striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who wasn’t provided decent service. The pressure of being the host nation got to them last night and their pedestrian performance won’t be tolerated by manager Jose Antonio Camacho who is looking forward to his die’s next match
“It’s very difficult to win the first match in these tournaments. For the next match we have to fight tooth and nail.”
Guinea Bissau manager Baciro Cande was delighted with the win.
“We are very, very happy. Now we have the motivation to go as far as possible.”
Gabon would look to hit back in its next clash against Burkino Faso whilst Guinea Bissau will look to keep the momentum going when it faces Cameroon on Wednesday.
In the other group A match Burkino Faso and Cameroon drew 1-1.