plane crash, missing players, absence of jerseys…. The crazy galleys of the Panthers – Young Africa

I can no longer ignore the recent experience of the Gabon Panthers, a lambda observer admitted that the results of the national selection during the first two qualifying days for CAN 2023 are rather honorable, starting with the victory June 4 (1 -0). But this result, combined with a zero match against Mauritania (0-0), four days later in Franceville, has room to exploit, when we discover what has happened in the days that preceded the trip to Kinshasa.

Emergency landing in Barcelona

Patrice Neveu, the French selector from Gabon, has undoubtedly experienced some of the most surrealistic moments of his career. The Gabonese, who had come to hold an internship for a few days in le-de-France, had to rally in Kinshasa by private plane on Thursday, June 2. “While we were in full flight, the pilot informed us that he had to rush to Barcelona for a technical problem. When you learn that, it’s very annoying, because it’s something we can’t master, ”he explains.

The malfunction is important enough for the players and their staff to be disconnected. “In one I found a hotel, forty-five minutes from the airport. Then the airline had to send us another plane on Friday. But the device never arrived, as the match was scheduled for the next day, June 4, at 5pm, at the Martyrs Stadium in Kinshasa.

The day of June 3 goes by without any solution clearly disappearing. If you want to know the risk in your profile, the fédération gabionaise demande in homologue congolaise of the reporter and match or dimanche. “Impossible,” he replied, explaining that the Leopards must fly to Sudan around midnight on Saturday. “So on Friday night, we all went to bed. But at 2 in the morning, someone came to wake me up asking me to prevent the players as soon as possible, in order to take a regular flight at 4 in the morning, ”Neveu continued.

Seven players on the tile

Unless the bus that is supposed to carry the Gabonese delegation does not arrive. Seventeen players, including two who were injured, accompanied by the deputy selector, find taxis to go to the airport. But the selector, part of the staff and seven other players are not found fast enough. As a result, Neveu said: “When we arrived at the airport, the plane was already gone. »

For its part, the African Football Confederation (CAF) is canceling the strike at 9pm, after receiving the pilot’s report on technical problems he was forced to rush to Catalonia. But Neveu and the rest of the delegation, after hoping to be able to join Kinshasa, must resign. “We returned to Paris on Saturday and watched the match online. Gabon, with only fifteen valid players, seems to be in for a treat thanks to a goal from Shavy Babicka (20 years old), his first in selection.

The hours that follow this almost miraculous victory will be no more serious. The Kinshasa party arrived in Libreville on June 5, after a flight of more than seven hours, the “Parisians” arrived in the capital Gabonese on Monday at the end of the day. But some leaders of the Gabonese federation (Fegafoot) want all this beautiful world to fly without delay to Franceville, where the match against Mauritania must be avoided on June 8. In turn, they argue that they want to alienate the internationals from Libreville, where the temptations are great.

Players oppose this idea, preferring to stay in Libreville on Monday night to rest and leave on Tuesday morning. Final, for example, and concert with the government and Patrice Neveu, the last part of Franceville, the durée d’un peu plus d’une heure, or mardi matin.

No jerseys

In Haut-Ogoué, the Panthers were received on June 7 by President Ali Bongo, on a visit to the province. The head of state is even scheduled to assist in the match that will take place the next day against the Mauritani at the Franceville Stadium (formerly Renovation Stadium). But on the day of the match, another contract awaits the Gabonese players, before the coup, when they enter their uniforms.

The latter note that the match jerseys are not in the drawers, where there are only training suits. It will therefore be these jerseys that will be used with the numbers of each of the players registered on the board. Some players are even obliged to put on jerseys too big or too small.

“Fegafoot is totally disorganized. Since May and the incarceration of President Pierre-Alain Mounguengui [dans le cadre d’une enquête sur des abus sexuels commis sur des mineurs par un entraîneur], problems accumulate. Players are overwhelmed by these multiple organizational problems. It is a miracle that they came to have results, ”sighed a close to the national selection.

The next two meetings will take place in September against Sudan. “I hope I can only occupy the ground, my players, and not the rest. I’m proud of what the players are doing, but when we face all these problems, I can’t raise my level of efficiency too high, “concluded Neveu.

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