ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe missed a golden opportunity to seize the initiative in Group L of the 2017 Afcon qualifiers when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Guinea in Harare on Sunday
Goalkeeper Washington Arubi’s blunder handed the visitors an early lead, and although Knowledge Musona equalised 24 minutes into the game, the Warriors just could not find the winning goal.
Zimbabwe had gone into the match desperate for a win which would have handed them the initiative in Group L. Guinea for their part were also determined to avoid another slip-up after a surprise 2-1 loss at home to Swaziland in the opening round.
And the visitors were one-up two minutes in after Arubi struggled to control an awkward-looking back pass from midfielder Danny Phiri, and Idrissa Sylla slammed home from close range.
The early setback stunned the estimated 35 000 fans who had packed Harare’s Rufaro Stadium, but Zimbabwe were soon warming up the atmosphere with some persistent offensive play.
Belgium-based forward Musona, who started on the right hand side of the midfield, shot over from close range after being put through by Danny Phiri, while Nyasha Mushekwi also came close with a glancing header which struck the post.
Khama Billiat also went close with a superb free-kick, before Musona sent the crowd into wild celebrations after timing his run well to a Phiri pass to net Zimbabwe’s equaliser.
Zimbabwe continued to be the more offensive side in the second half and Malajila should have done better when his free header off a Billiat corner went wide.
Warriors coach Calisto Pasuwa replaced Mushekwi with Matthew Rusike, but little changed and in the end Guinea were happy to walk away with a draw.