Mali and hosts Cameroon secured their places in the quarter-finals of the African Nations Championship, and a Zimbabwean player was substituted after 149 seconds in the first half when Group A ended on Sunday.
A goal from Demba Diallo in the 11th minute brought Mali a 1-0 win over Zimbabwe in the coastal city of Douala and first place in Group A with seven points from three games.
Cameroon, which wants to win the competition for home players as the second host country after Morocco, prevailed 0-0 with Burkina Faso and finished second with five points.
Burkina Faso finished third with four points, while Zimbabwe failed to collect a point for the first time in five games of the tournament due to three defeats.
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Another day, another Kepa howler
On Saturday, Mali will face the runner-up in Group B in Yaounde, while Cameroon will make a 150-mile trip to Douala on the same day to meet with the Group B winners.
Two times Democratic Republic of Congo champions, top group B, four points ahead of Monday’s finals, with Libya (three points), Niger (two) and Congo Brazzaville (one) all contested.
While the Malians and Cameroonians celebrated advancing to the knockout round and the Burkinabe complained that they missed several scoring chances, the Zimbabwean Qadr Amin was the focus of attention.
When Zimbabwe received a free kick about 30 meters from the Malian goalkeeper Djigui Diarra, Amin was standing next to the designated standard clerk Tatenda Tavengwa.
But as Tavengwa prepared to shoot on goal, Amin shot forward and shot the free-kick to the apparent rage of Croatian-born Zimbabwean coach Zdravko Logarusic.
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With just two minutes and 29 seconds in the first half, the electronic substitutes’ board was raised by the fourth official, suggesting that Amin would be replaced by Ian Nekati.
A dejected Amin walked away after making undesirable history as a Zimbabwean in order to spend the least amount of time on the field before being substituted off in a Nations’ championship game.
This clown Zim coach subdues a player in the 3rd minute for taking that free kick while transferring set pieces to the dreadlock player. Heal Qadr Amin, but
Where can you find these white coaches? # Logout pic.twitter.com/zOhK3mCloj
– Aluvah_Legacy (@AlvinZhakata) January 24, 2021
Logarusic was successful at the last Nations Cup in 2018 and led the outsider Sudan to third place behind the champions Morocco and the runner-up Nigeria.
In Yaounde, Burkina Faso needed maximum points to qualify and laid siege to the Cameroonian goal in the early stages without seizing multiple chances.
Mohamed Ouattara should have at least hit the target from a cross instead of shooting far and Ismahila Ouedraogo missed another good chance to give the Burkinabe the lead.
The misses proved costly as Cameroon lost their nerve in a brisk second half and managed to keep up with Burkina Faso.