Gabon v Zambia, African Cup of Nations, January 21, 2010
The final round of matches in Group D pits the minnows of Gabon and Zambia against each other, with a place in the quarter finals up for grabs in in a-winner-takes-all scenario.
Against the odds in a group which includes Cameroon and Tunisia, Gabon currently lead the group with four points. Accordingly, the Black Panthers know that a win or a draw will guarantee them a place in the next stage. By contrast, the Zambians are bottom of the table with a single point, but the rules of the competition – head-to-head is preferred over goal difference – means that a win will see them advance at the expense of their opponents.
The match should showcase an interesting contrast in footballing styles.
Gabon’s good start at the tournament has come as a result of solid defending (2/1 to keep a clean sheet) and quick-fire counter-attacks, with the formula working at it’s best in the sensational 1-0 victory over Cameroon in the first game. Gabon stuck to their game plan in the second match against Tunisia, which ultimately ended in a goalless draw. (5/7 to be under 2.5 goals, 7/5 to be over.)
Zambia, meanwhile, have been far more adventurous than the cautious Gabonese, adopting a much more attack-minded outlook in Angola. Indeed, the Copper Bullets lead against Tunisia before eventually being pegged back to a draw. And they again threw away a lead against Cameroon in matchday two, after a goalkeeping howler from Kennedy Mweene gifted Newcastle right-back Geremi an equalising goal that lead to the Indomitable Lions’ fightback.( Zambia are 12/5 to keep a clean sheet.)
The Black Panthers made two changes to the team that beat Cameroon when they took to the pitch against Tunisia, and Alain Giresse may make more ahead of the game against Zambia. In the centre of midfield the more defensive Paul Kessany came in and he may retain his spot. However, Roguy Meye (100/30 to score), who missed out against Tunisia, may come back in to partner Daniel Cousin (9/4 to score) up front in place of Pierre Aubameyang.
Gabon will also hope that left-winger Eric Mouloungi (4/1 to score) continues his excellent form in the final group match. The Nice-based forward has been the Black Panthers standout player so-far, taking up some excellent positions on both flanks and delivering some telling crosses into the box.
While Gabon may ring some changes, Zambia coach Herve Renard could name an unchanged side for third consecutive match at the games. Should that be the case, the Copper Bullets will look to striker Jacob Mulenga (13/5 to score) to continue his record of a goal a game in Angola, while his feloow strike-partner James Chamanga (100/30 to score) will also aim to justify his reputation as one of the best finishers on the continent.
101predicts: Gabon 2 – Zambia 2 (19/1)
Full match odds here.