2019 AFCON qualifiers:Aubameyang returns for Gabon against Burundi

Author: Rosalind K. Amoh
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in Gabon's squad against Burundi
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in Gabon's squad against Burundi

Arsenal striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will make a return for Gabon in their final group qualifying game against Burundi as the qualifying campaign for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations ends on March 23.

  The Panthers must win in Bujumbura on March 23, to qualify for the tournament which has now been moved from Cameroun to Egypt and Gabon coach Daniel Cousin is hoping can help them qualify.

While Gabon, currently third on the group standing need a win to make it to the extended 24-team tournament also changed from January to June in schedule, adraw for Burundi will be enough to see them qualify for their first ever Nations Cup finals.

Aubameyang, who has scored 17 goals in the English Premier League this season, including his strike against Manchester United on Sunday, has only featured in two of Gabon's five previous qualifiers.

The 29-year-old striker missed the Panthers' last two matches against South Sudan (a 1-0 victory) and Mali (a 1-0 defeat), though he was originally named in both squads.

Coach Cousin has recalled a number of players in his 23-man squad desperate to save Gabon's campaign.

 Midfielder Didier Ibrahim Ndong and striker Malick Evouna, who joined Portuguese side Santa Clara last January are back in the squad just as defenders Bruno Ecuele-Manga, who has played in all 30 of Cardiff City's Premier League matches this season, and Lloyd Palun, of Cercle Brugge in Belgium, who have been part the regular names in the squad.

Gabon, two times AFCON quarter-finalists (1996,2012) failed to go past the group stage when they hosted the tournament in 2017 and will be eyeing their eighth appearance by beating Burundi in the final game to join Mali who have already qualified with 11 points.