Preview: Gabon vs. Kenya - prediction, team news, lineups

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Preview: Gabon vs. Kenya - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's World Cup Qualifying - Africa clash between Gabon and Kenya, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Sports Mole previews Thursday's World Cup Qualifying - Africa clash between Gabon and Kenya, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The journey for a place in the 2026 FIFA World Cup commences for both Gabon and Kenya as they go head to head at the Stade de Franceville on Thursday.

Both sides have been drawn in Group F, alongside Burundi, Seychelles, Gambia and two-time Africa Cup of Nations champions Ivory Coast.

Match preview

Gabon players celebrate their first goal, an own goal scored by Burkina Faso's Adama Guira on January 23, 2022© Reuters

Gabon failed to find their feet time out as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Guinea when the two nations squared off in a friendly matchup on October 17.

Stuttgart striker Serhou Guirassy continued his superb form in front of goal as he opened the scoring in the 36th minute but Aaron-Salem Boupendza converted his 62nd-minute penalty to force a share of the spoils.

This followed a disappointing end to their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers campaign, where they finished third in Group I, just one point above rock-bottom Sudan.

Gabon flew out of the blocks in the qualifiers, claiming two wins and one draw in their opening three games, but defeats against Sudan, Congo DR and Mauritania in their final three matches saw their hopes of securing a second consecutive appearance at the continental tournament.

Thierry Mouyouma's side have now failed to win any of their last four matches across all competitions, picking up one draw and losing three since Lloyd Palun found the back of the net to hand them a 1-0 victory against Sudan on March 23.

However, the Panthers now return home where they are unbeaten in 10 of their last 11 competitive matches since November 2019 — picking up six wins and four draws — with June's 2-0 defeat against Congo DR being the exception.

Kenya's Michael Olunga celebrates scoring against Tanzania at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on June 27, 2019© Reuters

Having been excluded from the 2023 AFCON qualifiers through suspension, Kenya brought their friendly schedules to an end on October 16 when they played out a 2-2 against Russia at the Mardan Sports Complex.

Anthony Akumu and Masoud Juma Choka scored in a 20-minute spell to cancel out Aleksandr Sobolev's early opener and hand the East Africans a half-time lead but Ivan Oblyakov struck in the 89th minute to force a share of the spoils.

Engin Firat's men have now featured in six friendly matches since the turn of the year, picking up one draw, losing three and claiming victories over Pakistan and Qatar respectively.

The Harambee Stars' last competitive outing came in November 2021, when they picked up a 2-1 victory over Rwanda in the World Cup qualifiers courtesy of first-half goals from Michael Olunga and Richard Odada.

Kenya will fancy their chances of kicking off their quest for a first-ever World Cup appearance on the right path as they take on a Gabon side who have failed to win three of their last four meetings since January 1997.

Gabon form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D

Kenya form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D

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Team News

Gabon's Jim Allevinah celebrates scoring their first goal with Aaron-Salem Boupendza on January 18, 2022© Reuters

New head coach Mouyouma has named a 23-man squad for November's qualifying ties against Kenya and Burundi, including defender Urie-Michel Mboula, who received his first call-up back in September

Former Chelsea and Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had been omitted by the 48-year-old manager, while Loyce Mbaba and Anse Ngoubi Demba have earned their maiden senior call-ups.

With his leveller against Guinea back in October, Boupendza now has seven goals in 33 international caps and should spearhead the Panthers attack, while Didier N'Dong and Wolverhampton Wanderers man Mario Lemina should start in the centre of the park.

Meanwhile, Kenya have called up 28 players to the squad, with the likes of Michael Olunga, Akumu and Gor Mahia FC man Geoffrey Ochieng headlining the squad.

Orlando City man Nabilai Kibunguchy has earned his first call-up to the Kenya national team and we expect the 25-year-old to team up with Joseph Okumu at the defensive end of the pitch.

Gabon possible starting lineup:
Mbaba; Obissa, Appindangoye, Obiang, Oyono; Kanga, Lemina, N'Dong; Boupendza, Bouanga, Allevinah

Kenya possible starting lineup:
Matasi; Omar, Kibunguchy, Okumu, Nondi; Otieno, Abuya, Muguna, Masika, Ouma; Olunga

SM words green background

We say: Gabon 2-1 Kenya

Despite their recent struggles, Gabon will be backing themselves to kick off the qualifiers on a high as they return home where they have lost just one competitive game in the last four years. While we expect Kenya to put up a fight, we predict that the Panthers will come away with a narrow victory in front of their home supporters.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 2.5:data

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