Gabon will again go into the FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign with high hopes, seeking to build on their overall organisation and ample resources in a bid for a place at South Africa 2010™.
Led by French coach Alain Giresse, a former French international midfielder, and with striker Daniel Cousin back to lead their attack, Gabon will be hoping to break new ground as they meet Ghana, Lesotho and Libya in the first group phase of the African preliminaries, which get underway in June.
To date, Gabon's biggest FIFA World Cup qualifying achievement is their victory in the qualifying campaign for Italy 1990, when their 2-1 win against Nigeria prevented them from advancing to the next round and ultimately to the finals themselves. That was the very first time that Gabon had entered the preliminary stage, and it was also the last time they played any real part in deciding one of Africa's finalists.
Having failed to clear the first hurdle in the qualifying competition for Korea/Japan 2002 (losing to Madagascar), the Azingo Nationale were determined to put up a better showing during the qualifying campaign for Germany 2006.
To do so, Gabon needed first to get past Burundi in the preliminary qualifying round. It was not to prove too difficult a task, even though Burundi managed to hold their visitors to a goalless draw in Bujumbura. In the return leg in Libreville, Gabon had no problems overcoming the Burundians as they ran out easy 4-1 winners.
In the group phase, however, even star striker Stephane N'Guema could not conjure up the necessary magic. Two wins, four draws and four defeats saw Gabon fail to qualify and turn their hopes toward South Africa 2010.