Heartache for Gabon as Togo qualify

Emmanuel Adebayor

Togo held their nerve in the dying minutes to beat Gabon 2-1 in the final round of their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Lome at the Stade de Kégué on Sunday evening to win the overall tie 3-1 on aggregate.

Gabon’s leading striker Daniel Cousin nearly gave the Togolese crowd a scare as he scored 10 minutes from time but Wome Dove and Emmanuel Adebayor strikes in each half were enough to send the 2006 FIFA World Cup participants to South Africa next year.

Before a ball was kicked on Sunday between these two sides, Togo were in the driving seat because of the away goals rule.

The tie had been finely balanced with the aggregate score at 1-1.

After holding the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations co-hosts to that draw in the first leg played in Libreville last month. Togo at least needed a scoreless draw to make qualify.

The first half hour of the match was fairly quiet, but we saw some action in the 34th minute.

Wome Dove made the breakthrough for the hosts. It put them 2-1 on aggregate.

Gabon were still not entirely out of the tie at that point because they needed to get back that elusive goal they conceded at home to at least send the match into penalties had it ended 1-1 after 90 minutes.

In the 60th minute, Togo knew they had all but booked their trip to the foot of Africa when Emmanuel Adebayor made it 2-0 and his side now had one foot in next year’s competition. They led 3-1 on aggregate with that strike.

Gabon had a glimmer of hope in the 80th minute when Daniel Cousin found the back of the net. They still trailed 3-2 on aggregate but they could not find another goal as Togo prevailed.