AFCON 2017: Host Gabon on verge of exit, heartbreak for Guinea-Bissau

    Story highlights

    • Gabon 1-1 Burkina Faso
    • Cameroon 2-1 Guinea-Bissau

    (CNN)"Pressure and I are like husband and wife," Gabon coach Jose Antonio Camacho once said.

    On today's showing, it looks as though the marriage is more likely to end in divorce than happily ever after.
      After Gabon's opening day draw with minnow Guinea-Bissau, anything other than a win against Burkina Faso would make qualification for the knockout stage unlikely.
      Despite a spirited second-half effort, Wednesday's 1-1 draw means the host nation will be watching the late match between Cameroon and Guinea-Bissau with a keen eye.
      With that must-win nature of the match in mind Gabon started brightly. A mistake in the Burkina Faso defense inside the opening 60 seconds allowed Andre Biyogo Poko space down the right, but he was eventually smothered by a wall of white shirts.
      Gabon continued to press and Johann Obiang's cross fell to Denis Bouanga, whose crisp half-volley rattled the underside of Kouakou Koffi's crossbar.
      The pitch made it increasingly difficult for either side to find rhythm in their passing and the sandy, uneven surface soon claimed its first victim.
      Jonathan Pitroipa, player of the tournament in 2013 when Burkina Faso reached the final, limped off in considerable pain inside 10 minutes and was replaced by Prejuce Nakoulma.
      It would be the first of four injury-enforced substitutions, with the less than perfect pitch in Libreville once again drawing criticism.
      Having dominated for the majority of the opening 20 minutes, Gabon -- seemingly on the front foot -- won a succession of corners.
      Biyogo Poko's deliveries had so far failed to find a teammate and his set piece once again landed on the boot of a grateful Burkinabe defender.
      One long clearance up-field prompted substitute Nakoulma to scamper after the ball and put pressure on the last man, fullback Obiang.
      Aubameyang: We have a chance to win AFCON
      Aubameyang: We have a chance to win AFCON


        Aubameyang: We have a chance to win AFCON


      Aubameyang: We have a chance to win AFCON 01:28
      Nakoulma won the ball and used all his might to hold off the challenge of two Gabonese defenders, before cleverly cutting the ball into the far corner past the helpless Didier Ovono in the Gabon goal.
      The Turkey-based striker rushed to his bench in celebration, sat down and put his finger to his lips. The home crowd, reeling from going behind, duly obliged and descended into a shocked hush.
      That silence soon turned into frustrated groans and boos, as the sparse crowd inside the Stade d'Angondjé in the Gabonese capital began to make their feelings known.
      Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, known for donning Spiderman and Batman masks when celebrating goals for Borussia Dortmund, had to step forward. Gabon needed a hero.
      Just 15 minutes after falling behind, the host was handed a lifeline -- and this time the long was ball forward was the undoing of Burkina Faso's defense.
      Aubameyang's searing pace took him beyond a static back line and goalkeeper Koffi got to the through ball second, clipping Aubameyang's heels to give the referee no choice but to award the penalty.
      The Dortmund star stepped up and confidently dispatched the spot kick to Koffi's right.
      As the game wore on, the numbers in the crowd began to grow and with them so did the noise and expectancy.
      Benjamin Ze Ondo's cross into the box found Aubameyang at the far post, his knockdown landing at Bouanga's feet but Koffi flicked out a toe to turn the ball behind for a corner.
      For all its huffing and puffing, Gabon was unable to carve out another chance of real note. The dejected Gabonese players and delighted Burkina Faso men telling the story at the final whistle.
      Burkina Faso now only needs to beat unfancied Guinea-Bissau for a place in the knockout stages, while Gabon faces a daunting clash against African heavyweight Cameroon.

      Guinea-Bissau heartbreak

      If Guinea-Bissau's players were thought of as rank outsiders going into AFCON 2017, somebody clearly forgot to tell them.
      After securing a shock, late draw against host Gabon in the tournament's opening match, the West African underdog appeared on course to create one of the biggest shocks in AFCON history by beating four-time champion Cameroon.
      It took two brilliant long-range strikes in the second half for Cameroon to avoid one of the country's biggest sporting embarrassments.
      The stage was set for a shock inside a quarter of an hour.
      Guinea-Bissau forward Piqueti picked the ball up inside his own half, nonchalantly flicked it over Georges Mandjeck's head and drove into the Cameroon box.
      Still with plenty to do, Piqueti dropped is shoulder and cut inside Michael Ngadeu, before unleashing an unstoppable drive past Fabrice Ondoa. Some way to score your first ever international goal.
      After its passing game failed to break down a resolute Guinea-Bissau defense, Cameroon opted to go with the long ball.
      Targetman Vincent Aboubakar knocked down Ngadeu's lofted pass into the path of Benjamin Moukandjo, but the FC Lorient forward could only shoot straight at Jonas Mendes in the Guinea-Bissau goal.
      Unable to influence the match in the first half, Cameroon's star man Clinton N'Jie -- a $13.5 million Tottenham Hotpur signing -- was hauled off by manager Alexandre Belinga at half time and replaced by Karl Toko Ekambi.
      Although Cameroon enjoyed 62% possession in the first half, it rarely looked like threatening. Guinea-Bissau, meanwhile, looked likely to score every time it ventured into Cameroon's half.
      Hesitancy in the Cameroon defense almost gifted Guinea-Bissau a second goal. Frédéric Mendy bravely got his head to the ball and his lofted effort over Ondoa was cleared off the line by Ngadeu.
      The 'Wild Dogs' of Guinea-Bissau continued to pepper Ondoa's goal, but Cameroon finally had some creativity in the form of substitute Ekambi.
      Guinea-Bissau failed to deal with the danger after another probing run by Ekambi and the ball eventually fell to Sébastien Siani on the edge of the box.
      The uneven pitch this time proved beneficial, as the ball bobbled up nicely for Siani to crisply drill the ball into the corner of the net.
      The historical pedigree of these two countries could hardly be more different. While Cameroon is appearing in its 19th AFCON, the 2017 edition is Guinea-Bissau's first and as the second half wore on, the experience began to tell.
      Christian Bassogog initially appeared to be halted in his tracks down the right but managed to lay the ball off to Ngadeu, whose low, first time shot beat Jonas at his near post.
      Despite Cameroon's first AFCON win for seven years breaking Guinea-Bissau hearts, the 'Wild Dogs' still have plenty to play for in its final group match against Burkina Faso.