African star of the week: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

football03 June 2024 13:07| © Mzansi Football
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang © Getty Images

Gabon’s talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is making yet another comeback for Gabon this week as they take on African champions Ivory Coast in their World Cup qualifier on Friday.

Aubameyang, who turns 35 later this month, has been training over the last three days with the rest of the Gabon in Morocco before they travel to the Ivory Coast.

His return comes at the right time for Gabon, who will hope to have some impact on the World Cup qualifiers, where they also share Group F with Burundi, Gambia, Kenya and the Seychelles

Aubameyang is fresh from a successful campaign at Olympique de Marseille and won the Marc Vivien Foe award for the best African player in France’s Ligue 1.

His move to Marseille came after a tepid time at Chelsea in the Premier League and has seen a revival in his career.

He scored 17 goals in Ligue 1 and another 10 in the Europa League as Marseille got to the semifinal where eventual winners Atalanta knocked them out. He was named player of the competition by Uefa.

His return to Gabon comes after a long meeting with coach Thierry Mouyouma, who left him out last year not long after Aubameyang made his first comeback to the team.

Aubameyang said alleged friction between the two was a myth created by outsiders

“It’s the people who create unnecessary tension, actually. People who often create things from scratch when there is nothing,” said Aubameyang after meeting with Mouyouma, the former Wits University defender.

“The proof, he (Mouyouma) came here. He was made to believe that I was someone who perhaps thought he was someone else, and I was made to believe that he was pretending to contact me, etc. So, I think it’s more the people who are making noise,”

“Finally, we saw each other, we spoke honestly, he told me the things he had to tell me and I did the same thing.”

Aubameyang’s presence in the Gabon attack will make matters difficult for the Ivorians, who are hosting the game in Korhogo, which was one of the venues for the Cup of the Nations tournament in January.

Gabon will then return home and host the Gambia in their fourth qualifier on June 11.

Afterwards, attention will turn to Aubamenyang’s further as he toys with offers from the Middle East.

“I always take stock at the end of the season,” he said. But he has two more years of his contract and is the best paid player in the history of Marseille.

He could have earned much more by signing in the Gulf last year and joining Saudi stars Sadio Mané, Cristiano Ronaldo or Neymar.

“There was the opportunity (in June 2023). Of course this type of big check is tempting, from Saudi Arabia or elsewhere, but above all, it's football that is in my heart. I prefer to have a challenge, even a risky one, that's what will make me pick up a bigger check, you never know in life,” Aubameyang added.