Aubameyang back in selection, after the intervention of President Ali Bongo

Chelsea's Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during an English Premier League match between his club and Tottenham Hotspur in London on February 26, 2023.

Panthers supporters Gabon will have an additional reason to follow the match between their team and the Democratic Republic of Congo on June 18 in Franceville. At the top of their group with 7 points, the Gabonese could validate their qualification for the African Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 in the event of victory. But this match against the Leopards should also seal the reunion of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with the national team.

The striker announced it on May 16 on his Instagram account in the margin of a photograph where he appears, in the company of his father, with Gabonese President Ali Bongo Odimba: “A few days ago, I had the immense honor of being received by the President of the Republic of my country and, at the same time, being able to listen to the wise words that he transmitted to me like a father talking to his son. Following this, I therefore put myself at the disposal of my country and of the coach Patrice Neveu with whom of course we exchanged. Once a panther, always a panther. »

The player, aged 33 and under contract with Chelsea, is considered one of the best attackers playing in Europe, even if his season in England is proving complicated. In May 2022, he announced his international retirement, after having had to leave CAN in Cameroon. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had tested positive for Covid-19 after going to a disco during the selection preparation camp in Dubai. Present in Cameroon but confined to the bench, the international was sent back to his club after the first two games of the Panthers by the French coach Patrice Neveu.

Since then, the latter has exchanged several times with the one nicknamed “PEA”. “The decision is up to him. The team will necessarily be stronger with a player of this level. confided in April the coach to the World. The defeat in Sudan (0-1), during a qualifying match for the African Cup of Nations, on March 27, was a click.

“In the name of the higher interest of the nation”

Several internationals, after this failure, considered that the selection was not as efficient without “PEA”. They spoke to Pierre Aubame, the latter’s father, himself a former player and “team manager” (responsible for supervision) of the Panthères, who advised them to “contact their former teammate, via captain Lloyd Palun”according to a source close to the team.

But another actor weighed in with all his weight. After an express London-Libreville-London round trip by private jet, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his father were received Monday, May 8 by Ali Bongo, at the Seaside Palace in Libreville. A great football fan, the Gabonese head of state does not hesitate, when he deems it necessary, to intervene in the affairs of the national team, the most presentable side of a football weighed down for several years by competitions in the erratic play, unpaid player issues and, most recently, child molestation charges.

It is an initiative of the president who wanted to speed things up, with a view to the last two qualifying matches for the CAN, against the DRC in June and Mauritania in September, underlines a source close to the Gabonese Football Federation (Fegafoot). He wished that all the parties concerned, that is to say the player, the technical staff and the federation, discuss the conditions for a return of Aubameyang, in the name of the higher interest of the nation, a return that everyone wants. »

Alexis Billebault

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