Gabon coach Patrice Neveu admitted his team struggled to make amends for lost star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after winning the Africa Nations Cup Eliminated in the Pokal on penalties by Burkina Faso in Sunday’s round of 16.
Arsenal striker Aubameyang and influential midfielder Mario Lemina of French club Nice left Cameroon last Monday to return to their clubs, as did Neveu at the time said when the time came allowing both players to continue their recovery from Covid-19 infections.
Neither played a minute at the tournament but Gabon still made it through their group and sent Burkina Faso into overtime and then to penalties, although it was reduced to 10 men midway through the second half at Limbe.
“When you knock out two top international players, one of whom was top scorer in Germany, En gland and France, then inevitably you lose fortunes,” said veteran Frenchman Neveu.
Aubameyang and Lemina tested positive for just four days ahead of Gabon’s opening game against Comoros, then was confirmed ahead of the 1-1 Drawn against Ghana in their second game tested negative but was ruled out again after some residue from their infection was discovered.
They were released ahead of the Panthers’ final group game against Morocco to return to their clubs to return.
Both are said to be in excellent health after returning to their clubs and French newspaper L’Equipe reported on Sunday that the duo were fine and were allowed to leave the squad after deciding to to leave their isolation for one night in Yaoundé.
“It was an extremely complicated situation. They had to stay in their rooms because they had heart infection, but then they go back to their clubs and there’s nothing,” added Neveu.
“What can I say? We tried to make up for the loss, but you can’t just replace such world-class players.”
Gabon, who lost 7-6 on penalties after a 1-1 draw on Sunday , have never had a K.- o. game won at the Cup of Nations.