By Sports Reporter
Liberia …………..(0) 1
Zimbabwe ……..(0) 0
ZIMBABWE wasted a golden opportunity to qualify for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals with a game to spare after succumbing to a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Liberia in their penultimate qualifying match in Monrovia on Sunday.
The Warriors, who needed just a point from the match to confirm their place at next year’s continental showpiece, looked to be playing for just that as they lacked the determination and cutting edge which has characterised their campaign so far.
After failing to convert the chances that came their way in the first half and after the break, the Warriors were duly punished as the hosts broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute through a close range tap-in by skipper William Jebor from a low cross from the left by Tonia Tisdell.
The result sees the Warriors remain at the top of Group G on eight points, but they now have the Lone Stars just one point behind them in second place and will still qualify with a draw in their last match at home against Congo.
Democratic Republic Congo and Congo Brazzaville have six and five points respectively after they played out to a draw earlier in the day.
All four teams still have a shot at qualifying for the 2019 AFCON, with the group set to be decided with the final round of matches in March next year.
The Warriors created the first clear chance of the match in the 20th minute after left back Ronald Pfumbidzai laid the ball back for France-based forward Tino Kadewere, who wastefully directed his effort wide of the mark.
Liberia created their first big chance in the 34th minute when Antony Laffor’s close range shot was parried away by goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda.
However, it was the Warriors who always looked likely to break the deadlock and they were unlucky not to in the 43rd minute when Kadewere selfishly blazed his effort over the bar, when a simple pass to skipper Knowledge Musona would have presented him with a tap-in.
In the 70th minute, Laffor nearly capitalised on a poor throw out from Sibanda, as he tried to catch the goalkeeper off his line before Kadewere had yet another chance at the other end of the field but sent his low straight at Ashley Williams a minute later.
Zimbabwe were made to rue that missed opportunity as the deadlock was finally broken a minute later through the dreadlocked Jebor.
Warriors coach went for broke towards the closing stages introducing strikers Rodwell Chinyengetere and Evans Rusike, but it proved in vain as Liberia held on for an impressive victory.