The Panthers’ ambitions of reaching the knockout phase are on track after they fought back to hold Ghana to a 1-1 draw in their second Group C match on Friday night.
The Central African side is placed second on the group standings and a draw or victory against Morocco would be enough to earn the Panthers a spot in the Last 16.
Patrice Neveu, the Gabon head coach, is hopeful that his captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and star midfielder Mario Lemina will play against Morocco after they missed the Panthers’ first two Group C games due to medical reasons.
“They passed the PCR tests for [COVID-19), which were negative, and then they did the second battery of medical tests and it seems that both of them have a problem,” Neveu told Reuters.
“I was on the phone with the team doctor and Caf and they told me not to play them because their health must take precedence.
The virus has left some residue on the MRI tests that they underwent.
“Aubameyang and Lemina don’t have heart problems, but Covid may have left some waste, so it was wise not to play and we followed the protocols.
Meanwhile, Morocco became the second team to progress to the Last 16 after Cameroon when they secured a 2-0 victory over Comoros in their second Group C game on Friday evening.
The Atlas Lions are sitting at the top of the group standings – two points clear of second-placed Gabon and they will look to end their Group C campaign with a third successive win.
Vahid Halilhodzic, the Morocco head coach, is hoping to see his charges produce an improved performance against Gabon despite their convincing victory over Comoros.
“We won and naturally we are happy, but we would have liked to do better.
It was a difficult game,” Halilhodzic told CAF Online.
“It would have been nice if we had created more goal-scoring opportunities.
I believe we will be more efficient in the next game.
I will tell my players to keep hold of the ball and create more chances.
“We didn’t use the many chances we had.
I had several players who are recovering from injuries and need more time to be in the desired shape.
The last meeting between Gabon and Morocco was on 15 October 2019.
Gabon stunned Morocco as they emerged 3-2 winners in an international friendly match at the Grand Stade de Tanger in Tanger.
Gabon, Morocco to battle for Group C top spot