The Central African country are aiming to return to the Africa Cup of Nations next year and also qualify for their maiden World Cup in Qatar 2022
The Gabonese are expecting a lot more from Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as they target a place in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2022 Fifa World Cup, Gabon coach Patrice Neveu has disclosed.
Aubameyang who doubles as the Panthers captain, failed to guide the Central African nation to 2019 Afcon in Egypt but they have started their qualifiers for the next edition on a flying note.
With a record of 25 goals in 65 international games, Neveu believes the 2015 African Footballer of the Year who scored 29 goals for Arsenal last season can replicate his goalscoring form in the national team.
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“When I arrived, he was a little hesitant about committing to the national team for many reasons,” Neveu told Fifa website.
“I talked to him and he agreed to stay. He’s the captain and a great goalscorer, and he proves this year after year.
“He does a lot of great things for Arsenal, and so the people of Gabon expect a lot more from him in the national team. My role is to create the optimal conditions for him to best serve the group.
“He’s a superstar, but when he joins up with the national team, he treats everyone as his friends. I won’t deny that he has stipulated some requirements for the national team, especially at an organisational level.
“I hope he can do for us what he does for Arsenal and help us in the upcoming Africa Cup and World Cup qualifiers. As a coach, I’m very happy to work with a great player like him.”
Gabon have registered a win and a draw in their first two qualifying fixtures for the 2021 Afcon and they sit second in Group D behind the Gambia.
They have also been paired against Egypt, Libya and Angola in the second qualifying round for 2022 World Cup, however, Neveu has highlighted the priority of the national team.
The nomadic coach who has had managerial stints in 11 countries, is anticipating a tough challenge against Egypt when they begin their qualifiers in May 2021.
“Our first target is to make the 2022 Afcon in Cameroon. Everyone in Gabon was disappointed to miss out on the most recent edition of the tournament, so a return is a must for us,” he continued.
“Egypt are favourites in this section because they’re more experienced and have high-quality players such as Mohamed Salah.
“However, I think our team can spring a surprise. We have to believe in our ability to finish top of the group and make the play-off round. We’re going to have a tough game in Egypt, but we can get a positive result there.
“We have some top-level players too, and when we focus on team work, we can get good results, despite our squad lacking some strength in depth, both in terms of the quantity and quality of our back-up players.”