Gabon v Niger preview
Co-hosts relishing Group C opener
Last Updated: January 23, 2012 3:10pm
Co-hosts Gabon get their Africa Cup of Nations campaign started with a game against Niger in Group C on Monday.
And Gabon coach Gernot Rohr is relishing his team's opener in Libreville.
Gabon will face their Group C rivals at the new L'Amitie Stadium, with Rohr determined to collect three points at Mena's expense.
"We're well prepared, solid both on the pitch and mentally, there is a slight lack of confidence but we are all motivated and want to exploit all the chances we have," he said.
The 58-year-old went further, telling AFP: "My first Nations Cup - it's a beautiful adventure, I'm happy to live through it.
"It's like the first time with a woman, it makes your heart beat faster - that's what it's like.
"It's nice to experience that at my age!"
Nevertheless, the Frenchman has respect for their West African opponents, whose qualifying pool included seven-time and defending champions Egypt, as well as 1996 event winner South Africa.
"Beware of predictions! We don't think Niger will be the easiest match, in fact it could well turn out to be the most difficult. We're approaching it with a little bit of apprehension," Rohr admitted.
"We haven't played a competitive match in two years so yes of course at last we have one coming up on Monday.
"Two years of friendly matches is never easy, but we're not the first team to do this, we're motivated to enter into competition."
Rohr will look to the likes of Nice's Eric Mouloungui for inspiration in midfield as Gabon seek to emulate fellow hosts Equatorial Guinea's winning start to the event.
Meanwhile, Niger assistant boss Rolland Courbis insists the country are ready for their debut finals appearance.
"We are in the competition to do ourselves justice. We've got a good squad that conducts itself well. I've reassured them that we're not going to finish last of our group," said the former Marseille and Lens tactician.
Rohr will rely mainly on players that compete on the continent, such as veteran striker Alhassane Issoufou (FUS Rabat) and energetic midfielder Boubacar Talatou (Orlando Pirates).
Striker Moussa Maazou, 23, who leads the line at Belgium's Zulte-Waregem, is also expected to play a key role for head coach Harouna Doula.
Africa Cup of Nations Group A
Africa Cup of Nations Group B
Africa Cup of Nations Group C
Africa Cup of Nations Group D