The Eagles of Mali have qualified for the quarter final stage at the on-going Total African Nations Championship (CHAN) 2020 in Cameroon.
Demba Diallo netted the lone goal for Mali against Zimbabwe after 12 minutes at the Reunification Stadium in Douala on Sunday.
The win means Mali top Group A after hosts Cameroon settled for a goalless draw against Burkina Faso in another match played at the same time at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde.
Zimbabwe started with a high tempo as Qadr Amin missed a good scoring opportunity after only 3 minutes. But Amin was quickly replaced in the 4th minute by Ian Nekati.
The Eagles later dominated play with Issaka Samake and Siaka Bagayoko coming close to increasing the lead. Mali’s goalkeeper Djigui Diarra parried away Farawe Matare’s close shot after 34 minutes for a corner.
In the second half the Eagles intensified their attack, but poor finishing was their undoing. Bagayoko and Mussa Kone all had their shot blocked for Mali.
Zimbabwe also had Carlos Mavhurume’s shot blocked by the Malian goalkeeper Diarra. At the stroke of full time Mali’s substitute Bassekou Diabate out paced Zimbabwe’s advancing goalkeeper but his shot hit the post and bounced off.
It was all celebration by the Malian team after the final whistle as they qualified for the quarter final stage.
To reach the knock out Mali opened their campaign with a 1-0 win against Burkina Faso, before drawing 1-1 with hosts Cameroon and finishing it off with a 1-0 win against Zimbabwe.
In the 2009 and 2011 CHAN Editions, Mali failed to make it past the group stage. They bounced back in 2014 to finish 4th, but again found the going tough in 2018 and were ejected in the group stage.