September 29, 2017 / 2:10 PM / in a year

Aubameyang back to help Gabon’s World Cup bid

LIBREVILLE (Reuters) - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will return to Gabon’s squad for their World Cup qualifier against Morocco in just over a week after missing their last two matches, he said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO - Soccer Football - Champions League - Borussia Dortmund vs Real Madrid - Westfalenstadion, Dortmund, Germany - September 26, 2017 Real Madrid’s Nacho in action with Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang REUTERS/Leon Kuegeler

The Borussia Dortmund marksman was a surprise absentee as Gabon lost 3-0 at home to Ivory Coast on Sept. 2 but then three days later upset them 2-1 away to keep alive hopes of a place at next year’s finals in Russia.

“I’d been clear with the coach and the federation that it was not a good time for me to join the team. I was not in the right frame of mind because of all the transfer speculation but I’m back for the next game,” he told French television on Friday in a first admission that he had been set to depart the Bundesliga outfit before the season’s start.

The 28-year-old Aubameyang, with 13 goals in all competitions already this season, is key to Gabon’s hopes of a first-ever World Cup place. They must avoid defeat against Morocco in Casablanca to stay alive in the qualifying race. With two matches to play, the Ivorians top the Group C standings with seven points, Morocco have six and Gabon five. Only the group winner qualifies for the World Cup.

Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Andrew Bolton

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