A remarkable moment unfolded at Tangier’s Grand Stade as Niger clinched their first-ever win in the 2023 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) as they defeated Gabon 1-0 in their Group B match on Wednesday.
Following a goalless draw against Egypt, Niger triumphed with the victory over Gabon, who found themselves at the bottom of Group B.
This crucial victory came during the fourth matchday of the U-23 Afcon in Morocco.
Right from the kickoff, Gabon, positioned at the group’s basement, displayed determination and eagerly embraced physical challenges.
Despite their presence in the midfield, Saturnin Ibela Ignambi’s team struggled to convert their opportunities into goals against the Nigerien defense.
In contrast, Niger showcased their threat in the 8th minute when Kairou Amoustapha unleashed a powerful strike, brilliantly parried by Gabonese goalkeeper Gesril Andôme.
Under the watchful eyes of Patrice Neveu, the coach of Gabon’s senior national team, the Central African hopefuls took charge of the game. Emmanuel Essogo’s incisive runs posed genuine problems for the Nigerien defense.
Towards the end of the first half, Essogo won an enticing free kick for his team. However, Jérémie Obounet Moussango’s attempt was thwarted by his own teammates inside the Nigerien penalty area.
After the halftime break, Gabon created the better opportunities. Nevertheless, the 60th minute saw the referee award a penalty to Niger after Urie-Michel Mboula fouled Abdoul Salam Boulhassane.
Abdoul Moumouni Darankoum cemented his place in Nigerien football history by becoming the first player to score a goal in the final stages of a pre-Olympic tournament for Niger. With the scoreline firmly at 1-0 in favor of Niger, the result remained unchanged.
This hard-fought victory spells the end for Gabon in the competition as they face elimination. As the fourth matchday concluded, Egypt and Niger now occupy the top positions in Group B, with Niger’s historic triumph giving them a newfound sense of confidence and optimism.