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Elminated Zimbabwe end AFCON campaign on positive note with victory over Guinea

An excellent first half helped Zimbabwe to a two-goal halftime lead on their way to a 2-1 victory over Guinea in Group B at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Tuesday’s result is not enough to send the Warriors through to the knockout stages but will serve as evidence that the team is capable of competing following their disappointing defeat to Malawi. Guinea advance to the Round of 16 as Group B’s second-place team but there are plenty of concerns as they await the runner-up team in Group F.

The Guinean attack did not show any signs of improvement in the first half of Tuesday’s clash, and this time the Syli Nationale were made to pay by a Zimbabwe team playing without restraint. Guinea’s Sory Kaba saw the first good opportunity of the match fall his way after a cross found the OH Leuven forward, but with an empty net to shoot at Kaba’s effort was well saved by a Zimbabwean defender guarding the goal line.

Zimbabwe’s opener came in the 26th minute to stun the Guinean support. A corner kick from Never Tigere was cleared right back to the Azam FC midfielder, who had time to whip in another excellent cross to the edge of the six-yard box. Zimbabwe captain Knowledge Musona leaped up and placed a perfect header to past Guinea keeper Aly Keita to mark Musona’s final AFCON match with a goal.

Just before halftime it was Zimbabwe who continued to impress, doubling their lead in the 43rd minute. A pass from midfield found Kudakwashe Mahachi towards the edge of the area. The 28-year-old proceeded to stride forward uncontested before launching a firm low shot past Keita to once again send the Warriors into jubilant celebration.

Guinea showed some more enthusiasm moving forward and captain Naby Keïta was at the center of their comeback efforts. In the 49th minute the Liverpool midfielder cut inside with purpose from the right wing and blasted a left-footed shot that was too much for Zimbabwe goalie Talbert Shumba to handle, and the Zimbabwe lead was cut in half. Five minutes later Guinea took advantage of a quick free kick to find left back Issiaga Sylla with space for a cross, but the resulting shot was deflected just wide.

Keïta caused trouble for the Zimbabwean defense again in the 63rd minute when he made a mazy run towards the six-yard box before having the ball poked away, initiating a goal mouth scramble. Substitute Mamadou Diallo was able to get a shot off in the crowd, but Shumba did well to close down the angle and keep the ball out. Outside of a hopeful 82nd minute header from Ibrahima Sory Kanté, Guinea continued their attacking struggles and Zimbabwe were able to hold out for the three points.

Highlights of the match are below.

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