from ROSY SADOU in Yaoundé, Cameroon
YAOUNDE, (CAJ News) – WITH this victory over Guinea, their first in the tournament in 16 years, Zimbabwe will exit the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon with their heads held high.
Yet, following the 2-1 outcome at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaoundé, they will nevertheless be kicking themselves for the last-gasp defeat against Senegal in the first match and suffering an unlikely loss to Malawi in the second.
The victory secured through goals by captain Knowledge Musona and Kudakwashe Mahachi over the West Africans came too little too late as the side had already been eliminated.
History was made at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium as Rwandan referee, Salima Mukansanga, led an all-female line-up of match officials.
Zimbabwe coach Norman Mapeza made eight changes to the side that lost 2-1 to fellow Southern Africans, Malawi, on Tuesday.
John Takwara was the sole survivor in defence.
Talbert Shumba was preferred to Petros Mhari in goal and Musona retained to lead the attack.
The skipper led from the front and in the 26th minute as he broke the deadlock with an imposing header from a corner kick despite the close attention of several Guineans, guilty of slack marking.
The second one was in part thanks to fortuitous circumstances.
Goalkeeper Aly Keita seemed well-positioned to stop Mahachi’s shot but for some reasons lost balance and the effort made contact with his diving arm before trickling into the net.
A lapse in concentration returned to haunt the Warriors as they allowed Guinea captain Naby Keita space to unleash from outside the box to reduce the deficit.
The victory was not enough to save Zimbabwe from a third successive last-place finish in the group stages of tournament, after similar wooden spoon berths in 2017 and 2019.
Their last win at the AFCON had been a 2-1 success over Ghana in 2006.
Meanwhile, Senegal have finished top of Group B with five points at the ongoing tournament.
Guinea, with the same number of points, four, as Malawi finish second because of a superior head-to-head record.
Malawi has a chance of joining the West African pair in the group stage by finishing among the four best third-place finishers.
– CAJ News