Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Karim Farouk, Saturday 28 Jan 2012

Gabon's talismanic forward

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played a pivotal role in helping co-hosts Gabon reach the African Cup of Nations quarter-finals with some impressive displays in the first two games of the tournament.

The 22-year-old forward scored two goals in as many games and dished out two assists to help the Panthers move to the top spot of Group C with victories over Niger and heavyweights Morocco.

“I can confess to you that our anxiety about the tournament and the awe of big teams has gradually vanished. We are now very confident to face any side,” Aubameyang told Goal.com.

“Firstly, it was the Equatorial Guinea’s 1-0 win over Libya that sparked off our motivation.

“We defeated Niger 2-0 and settled properly for the competition, and when the Nzalang Nacional did it again  by stopping favourites Senegal, pressure was on our shoulders not to fumble in our next outing against another top team, Morocco, which eventually happened to our favour.”

The Saint Etienne forward proved to be Gabon’s major threat. Aubameyang is not a target man; he is more of a wide man who is often deployed on the right flank. He usually cuts inside from the right, using his speed and pace to beat his challenger and cross or move towards the danger zone.

He scored six goals in 19 matches in the French Ligue1 this season while playing in that position to become St Etienne’s top scorer.

The French-born rising star came through the youth ranks of AC Milan and signed a professional contract at the age of 17 but never managed to break into the senior squad. He spent several loan stints in France with Dijon, Lille and Monaco before settling in at Saint Etienne.

Aubameyang, who played a game for France’s youth team against Tunisia in 2009, was eligible to play for Gabon through his father Pierre, former captain of the Panthers. After his brilliant start to the CAN campaign, he dreams of making history with Gabon.

“There is some kind of power, feeling running in our veins right now, like we must and need to reach and play the final on February 12. Against who? Just Anybody! We no longer fear any team, however their status. All I can say is that spirits are very high at the moment and we can’t wait to tackle the hurdles separating us from the final,” he concluded.

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