Concerns for Gabon pitch as Nations Cup stadium opens

The Sino-Gabonese Friendship Stadium
The Sino-Gabonese Friendship Stadium in Libreville, which is due to host the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations final in February, welcomed Brazil.

Gabon inaugurated the Sino-Gabonese Friendship Stadium in Libreville with a 2-0 defeat against Brazil on Thursday.

Gabon's new national stadium will stage the final of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, to be co-hosted with Equatorial Guinea, on 12 February.

The stadium looks set to host Africa's flagship competition but there are concerns over the state of the pitch.

Brazil will be more pleased their players avoided serious injury on the treacherous surface.

The risk was high on a pitch rendered virtually unplayable by a heavy tropical downpour before kick-off.

Puddles on the newly-laid pitch made playing difficult and the start of the match was delayed by almost 20 minutes.

This was after the lights at the new stadium went out twice before kick-off.

Gabon coach Gernot Rohr had complained about the lack of friendlies at home before, but now the stadium that will host the Nations Cup final on 12 February is ready they can get to play some matches at home.

The Panthers have been drawn against surprise qualifiers Niger and former champions Morocco and Tunisia.

Gabon, who have never won the Nations Cup nor qualified for a World Cup, get their 2012 campaign underway when hosting Niger in Libreville on 23 January.

They play Morocco in the same venue four days later before moving to Gabon's second venue, Franceville, for their final Group C tie against Tunisia on 31 January.

Brazil, meanwhile, will host the next World Cup in 2014.

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