By David Gold

gabon football_04-01-12January 4 - Gabon's football team is capable of following in the footsteps of the Nigerian and Cameroonian teams that won gold at the Olympic Games in 1996 and 2000 respectively, and claim glory in London later this year, says a leading sports official in the country.

Unexpectedly, Gabon won the African qualifying competition for London 2012, stunning hosts Morocco in the final to cap a memorable tournament at the end of last year.

"Gabon's victory at the qualifying tournament for the London 2012 Olympic Games was a good thing," said Louis Claude Moundzieoud, chief spokesperson for the African Nations Cup Organising Committee in Gabon, who has been heavily involved in the organisation of the tournament, which they are co-hosting with Equatorial Guinea.

It was the first continental title in the country's history, and senior coach Gernot Rohr has indicated that he will pick a number of the young players who were in that team for the African Nations Cup, which gets underway later this month.

"Gabon can follow Nigeria [winners at Atlanta 1996] and Cameroon, who won the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia in 2000," Moundzieoud stated.

"Gabon will be a team to follow [at the Olympics] because it's a team with ambitions – now the champion of Africa.

"This shows the work that has been done with the young players in Gabon with the country's sporting plan.

"It shows that they can do well at the African Cup of Nations, and in 2012 success can follow.

"The team has the resources to get at least to the quarter finals of the African Nations Cup."

Henri Ndong_04-01-12
Players such as Bordeaux star André Biyogo Poko, as well as Henri Ndong (pictured) and Alexander N'Doumbou are key contenders for the London 2012 squad, whilst their key player is likely to be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has been in good form recently for St Etienne in the French league.

With the emerging group the country has, Moundzieoud says that the country can go on and qualify for the World Cup, being held in Brazil in 2014.

Gabon has never qualified for the World Cup before, but have a favourable qualifying group having been paired with Burkina Faso, Congo and Niger.

Should they finish top of that group, they will contest a play off against another group winner.

"With the sporting plan we have, the results will come," Moundzieoud says.

"We have a team which hopes to qualify for Brazil 2014.

"Qualification is always near [last time Gabon narrowly missed out after finishing second in their group to Cameroon].

"We can qualify for the World Cup in 2014."

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