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Burkina Faso and Cameroon progress to last eight at expense of hosts Gabon
Gabon’s catastrophic Africa Cup of Nations campaign unravelled further on Sunday night as coach Jose Antonio Camacho deflected questions about his future and blamed bad luck for his side’s humiliating first round exit after three draws.
The hosts had the better chances against Cameroon in Libreville. Skipper Pierre-Emerick-Aubameyang scuffed a tap-in with the goal beckoning less than five mintutes into the game. And with just a few seconds left, Denis Bouanga struck an upright and Cameroon keeper Fabrice Ondoa saved Ibrahim Ndong’s follow-up.
"I am sorry for the fans and for the team,” said Camacho. “We went out to win the game but football is not fair. We hit the post in injury time before their goalkeeper made a great save from Ndong’s shot.
Sunday's 0-0 followed 1-1 stalemates with Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso. Gabon, who began the tournament hoping to emulate their surge to the last eight when they co-hosted the tournament with Equatorial Guinea in 2012, become the first hosts to go out in the group stages since Tunisia in 1994.
Camacho, who took up his post just before the start of the competition, added:
"It is too soon to talk about the future. We are sad that we have not gone through.
There is no point crying about the lack of time we had. We didn't have time to play friendly matches. The players had just come back from holidays.
"These are circumstances that you sometimes get in football. I am happy with the work put in by the players."
Cameroon advance to the last eight as Group A runners-up. They will play the Group B winners Senegal in Franceville on 28 January while on the same day, the Group A victors, Burkina Faso, will take on Zimbabwe, Tunisia or Algeria.
The Burkinabe, beaten finalists in 2013 under Paul Put, secured their passage with a 2-0 win over Guinea Bissau. A Rudinilson Silva own-goal gave them the lead at the pause and Bertrand Traoré capped an impressive performance with the second 12 minutes into the second half.
Though Burkina Faso and Cameroon finished with five points each, the former topped the table on goal difference. Gabon finished third with three points and Guinea-Bissau were last with one point from their first appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations.