Zimbabwe . . . (1) 2
Mali . . . (0) 1
Zimbabwe beat Mali 2-1 to reach the semi-finals of the African Nations Championship (Chan) at Cape Town Stadium last night.
Simba Sithole and Kudakwashe Mahachi scored in either half for Zimbabwe while Hamidou Sinayoko pulled a goal back for Mali late in the game.
The Warriors become the first of three sides who have taken part in all three Chan tournaments at the South Africa event to reach the last eight to set the standard for DR Congo and Ghana at the business end of the competition.
Zimbabwe were in control for most of the first half, pressing Mali despite the latter’s early warning shot from Ibourahima Sidibe in the sixth minute that was saved by George Chigova.
Mali were restricted to shooting from range for most of the first half thanks to some solid defending by Milton Ncube, Eric Chipeta, Partson Jaure and Hardlife Zvirekwi.
Zimbabwe took the lead in the 10th minute through striker Sithole who toe-poked a long punt from Jaure after out-pacing Souleyamane Konte.
The goal was Sithole’s first following a frustrating time in the preliminary group stage to finally pay off the faith Gorowa had put in him in the last three games.
After a 20 minute spell of sustained pressure, Mali managed to briefly wiggle out of heat but Mamadou Sidibe’s volley from half way inside Zimbabwe’s half flew high and over.
Peter Moyo then came close to adding to Zimbabwe’s second in the 20th minute when he fired a long-range shot forcing the best out of goalkeeper Soumaila Diakite.
On the half hour, Ali Sadiki saw his tame shot from a Simba Mambare corner easily saved by Diakite and he had another chance from a free kick in the 37th minute parried by the under-pressure Mali goalkeeper.
Sithole then elected to miss when it looked easier to score in the 41st minute by blasting high and over at point-blank range.
Mali then gave Zimbabwe a late scare dead on 45 minutes when Lassina Diarra breached the Warriors wall of steel but amazingly thumped the ball inches high with Chigova beaten.
Then came a touch of magic in the 56th minute from midfielder Mahachi who added Zimbabwe’s second goal when he slalomed past four Malian defenders before rounding Diakite to run with the ball into the Mali goal.
Mali had chances begging after the hour mark when Sissoko slipped Zimbabwes’ defence in the 66th minute but blasted his effort wide and ten minutes later Hamidou Sinayoko too whipped his shot wide.
Mahachi could have added a brace in the 82nd minute had he been more sensible with his cross while a minute later Mambare saw his probing ball parried by Diakite.
Mali’s consolation came in the 88th minute when Sinayoko headed in Sissoko’s cross to have Zimbabwe finally concede their first goal of the tournament.
Zimbabwe head to Wednesday’s semifinals where they await winner of today’s quarterfinal meeting between Libya and Gabon.