Auba's influence on his NFD homeboy

GladAfrica Championship

Maritzburg United discard Nathanael Bongo Mbourou has pumped up global superstar Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's influence in Gabon's successful qualification for next year's AFCON finals.

From being offloaded at Maritzburg at the beginning of the year after making a mere four appearances and then signing for first division club Cape Town All Stars, Mbourou will now be amongst a group of little-known NFD players heading to the Africa Cup of Nations finals.

Gabon finished second in Group D behind Gambia in a group that also had DR Congo and Angola.

"It is special to have Pierre in our team because he is an inspiration to all of us since he plays for Arsenal in the EPL and everybody watches his games all the time," Mbourou tells

"He is a good guy who talks well with all the younger players in the squad. It is special to be teammates with someone who is a big star in the EPL. He talks with the young players and helps us a lot in everything that we need. We also have Mario Lemina [Fulham midfielder] in the EPL, who is a good guy as well in the squad. We are grateful to be learning from these guys.

"We will be going to the AFCON because of the part that our senior players like Pierre have played. For someone like me it will be great because it will be my first time there since I was in the national Under-20 when we hosted the tournament last time. We have a good team that should hopefully do better than we did the last time. It is huge opportunity for us to be going to for us to go to the AFCON next year in Cameroon and for now I have to keep working towards making that dream happen," he says speaking from Libreville, Gabon.

Mbourou will be available for selection at All Stars following the issuing of his work permit this week.

His fellow countryman Jean-Noel Amonome of Uthongathi will also be in with a chance for selection.

Meanwhile, the Benin pair of Marcel Dandjinou (JDR Stars) and Fadel Abdel Suanon could be the other NFD players heading to AFCON if the West African country comes out alive from Group L.

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