Gabon's Bamba to undergo knee surgery

Gernot Rohr (right) instructs the Gabonese squad
Coach Gernot Rohr has been forced to reshuffle his defence in Bamba's absence

Injured Gabon international Jean-Pierre Bamba will undergo an operation on his damaged right knee on Thursday.

The 24-year-old was set to be a key figure at next month's Africa Cup of Nations until suffering ligament damage in a friendly in October.

Gabon coach Gernot Rohr had still harboured hopes of a return to action until these were dashed by medical advice earlier this month.

"We will miss him as he is a very good central defender," Rohr told BBC Sport.

"He can play right back as well, so it's a pity."

Gabonese officials had been so confident of Bamba's recovery that the centre back made Gabon's preliminary 30-man squad for the 2012 finals earlier this month.

Bamba, who plays his club football in the Gabonese capital Libreville, is currently with Rohr in France ahead of his operation in Bordeaux.

And the German coach is hopeful that the medical prognosis of a return in three months' time will prove accurate.

Africa's qualifying race to the 2014 World Cup starts in June, by when Bamba will expect to have fully recovered.

The FC 105 Libreville player broke into the Gabonese first team last year and has often featured under Rohr ever since.

Gabon will stage the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finals from 21 January to 12 February, along with fellow co-hosts Equatorial Guinea.

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