Gabon coach Rohr satisfied with Panthers' performance

By John BennettBBC Sport, Libreville
Gabon coach Gernot Rohr (centre) with his players as they prepare before the penalty shoot-out against Mali in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals
Gabon coach Gernot Rohr praises his players after his side's elimination

Gabon coach Gernot Rohr says he is "proud" of his players despite their defeat against Mali in the quarter-fnals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the only player to miss a penalty, with Mali netting all of theirs.

"Everybody (every Gabonese) missed the penalty with Pierre-Emerick," Rohr said.

"But I'm proud of my players because they gave their all. They were fighting till the end of the game."

Gabon twice hit the post in normal time and had come close to taking a two-goal lead before Mali substitute Chiekh Diabate equalised in the 84th minute.

"We missed chances in the two situations when we could score the second goal," the German coach added.

"The game was very difficult. Mali is a big team, with strong players."

"I know Diabate very well because he was my player at Ajaccio. I told my players before the game that this man is very dangerous - and he scored the goal."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is disconsolate after his penalty shoot-out miss
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is disconsolate after his miss in the penalty shoot-out

But the German denies that the pressure of playing at home had anything to do with the defeat.

"We had the pressure in other games. Most of the pressure was in the first game and the team played well," the former Bordeaux coach explained.

"The second game was the same. The third game, we changed the team and we also won against Tunisia."

Meanwhile, Gabon defender Bruno Ecuele Manga feels that Gabon should have won the match.

"It's true that in the first half we could have killed the game but after that we didn't convert our chances," the centre-back lamented.

"We led 1-0 in the second half but we couldn't hold on and that's a hard thing to take.

"We have some regrets. If you look at the match as a whole, I think we deserved to win but it went to penalities and we all know that's a lottery."

"Mali were able to seize their chance."

Gabon have never reached the semi-finals of the Nations Cup - with Sunday's defeat a near replica of their previous quarter-final appearance in 1996 when they also drew 1-1, before losing to Tunisia on penalties.