By Sports Reporter
THE Warriors survived a second half onslaught to hold hosts Congo to a 1-1 draw in a crucial Group G 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Stade Alphonse Massemba-Débat in Brazzaville on Sunday afternoon.
Zimbabwe, who were aiming for their second straight win of the qualifiers after their victory over Liberia last June, opened the scoring through a beautiful close range finish by skilful forward Khama Billiat in the 22nd minute.
The Kaizer Chiefs forward, who shrugged off injury worries to start the crucial match finished off a quick 1-2 move with skipper Knowledge Musona as the Warriors took the lead against the run of play as Congo dominated the early exchanges.
The Warriors should’ve doubled their lead four minutes later after Evans Rusike played in Musona, but the Belgium-based hit man directed his initial effort straight at Chansel Massa before guiding the rebound shot wide with the goal at his mercy.
The miss would prove costly as Congo returned from the break a different outfit and duly levelled matters in the 50th minute through France-born forward Thievy Bifouma.
Buoyed by a boisterous home crown Congo continued to push forward for the winner, but the best chance in the closing stages fell to Zimbabwe in the 77th minute.
Musona, though, failed once more in his attempt to beat Massa with the goalkeeper up to the task to keep out the forward’s shot from the edge of the area.
The Warriors now have four points from two games after winning their opening match of the campaign 3-0 at home against Liberia.
Liberia also drew 1-1l against Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the later Group G match played in Monrovia.
Zimbabwe and DRC are now tied on 4 points, with Zimbabwe topping the group on goal difference, while Liberia and Congo Brazzaville have a point each.
Two teams from each of the 12 groups qualify for the 2019 finals in Cameroon, after CAF expanded the tournament to have 24 teams.
— CAF (@CAF_Online) September 9, 2018
Group G Standings
P W D L F A Pts
Zimbabwe 2 1 1 0 4 1 4
DRC 2 1 1 0 4 2 4
Congo 2 0 1 1 2 4 1
Liberia 2 0 1 1 1 4 1