Gabon became the fourth ever host nation to be eliminated at the group stages of the African Cup of Nations after a barren draw with four-time champions Cameroon which left them placed third in Group A.
The last time a host nation failed to make it past the groups was Tunisia in 1994.
Heading into the last round of group matches, Gabon needed just a win to progress. They played infront of their home crowd and president Ali Bongo.
They were second with two points having drawn both their opening matches while Cameroon led the group with four points.
At the end of the day, Burkina Faso topped the group with five points after a 2-0 win over debutants Guinea Bissau while Cameroon finished second also on five points but on an inferior goal difference.
Gabonese players were left dejected after referee Daniel Bennett’s final whistle and their star player Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could not begin to fathom where they went wrong.
Gabon’s Panthers had chances to score in the opening five minutes with Aubameyang missing the most open of all. In the final three minutes of the game, it was the Cameroonian keeper Fabrice Ondoa who kept Gabon’s dreams at bay with good saves.
Aubameyang had scored in each of Gabon’s opening games and was expected to keep the same form heading into the most important match.
However in the fourth minute with a gaping goalmouth, the Borussia Dortmund forward side-footed a Dennis Bouanga cross inches wide. The exciting French-based winger Bouanga posed the biggest threat for Gabon.
In the 23rd minute, his freekick from the right almost found its way into the net but Ondoa managed to back-peddle and tip the ball over for a corner.
In the second half, the gas seemed to die down under the Gabonese players’ feet despite the noise levels from the passionate crowd increasing.
Cameroon found some space to knick in some chances and Ambroise Oyongo struck wide from a freekick at the edge of the box. Sebastien Siani also came close for the 2002 champions after being set up by Christian Bassogog but the effort couldn’t trouble the Gabon backline much.
During the added three minutes, Gabon almost sneaked into the quarters, but were unfortunate. Bouanga picked the ball on the left, found space and shot but the effort came off the upright.
Didier Ndong who plays his football in England with Sunderland picked up the spills but his bouncing shot was parried away by Ondoa.
In the other match in Franceville, A Rudinilson Silva own-goal and a Bertrand Traore second half goal saw the Burkinabes through.
The Burkinabe Stallions return to the Gabonese capital, Libreville, for a last-eight showdown with the Group B runners-up, probably Tunisia, next weekend.
A defensive mix-up led to Silva conceding an own-goal in the 11th minute as Burkina Faso who were runners up in 2013 started well. Twelve minutes into the second half, they sealed their place with a neat finish from Traore.