Republic of Congo surprises Gabon 1-0 at African Cup

BATA, Equatorial Guinea (AP) Republic of Congo ground out a surprise 1-0 win over Gabon at the African Cup of Nations on Wednesday, its first at the tournament in over two decades, to go top of Group A.

Prince Oniangue forced the ball in from a corner in the 48th minute at Bata Stadium to sneak the win after Republic of Congo was under pressure almost throughout and relied heavily on counterattacks.

The Congolese were clinging on before and after their goal, but while Gabon surged forward often, it couldn’t convert any of its many chances.

”We played a very good match tactically,” Republic of Congo coach Claude Le Roy said.

Levy Madinda sent a shot just past the post in Gabon’s completely dominant first half. He also shot just wide late in the second after weaving his way past defenders to create the opening for himself.

Between those, Gabon’s star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed an open goal and probably Gabon’s best chance when the ball fell to him with Congo goalkeeper Christoffer Mafoumbi way out of position. Aubameyang somehow hit his low effort past the right post.

”With respect for Congo, it was not a fair result,” Gabon coach Jorge Costa said. ”We had a lot of chances to score.”

The result shook up Group A.

Republic of Congo, the African champion in 1972 but with little success at the championship since then, now leads with four points. Gabon has three and slipped down to second, host Equatorial Guinea has two points and Burkina Faso one.

Gabon and Equatorial Guinea – the neighbors who co-hosted the African Cup in 2012 – now meet in the crucial final round of group games. A draw for Republic of Congo against Burkina Faso would be enough to take it through to the quarters for the first time since 1992.