AFTER their heroic display albeit a losing cause against Senegal on Monday, the Warriors were brought down to earth after succumbing to a disappointing 2-1 loss to Malawi in a must-win Group B encounter Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam, Cameroon on Friday night.
Striker Frank Mhango scored a goal in each half to cancel out Ishmael Wadi’s first-half opener as the Malawi Flames left the Warriors on the brink of an early exit from the continental showpiece.
While the Warriors became the first team to be knocked out of the competition after losing the first two matches, Malawi, buoyed by the win kept their second-round hopes after picking up their first win of the tournament.
Wadi put Zimbabwe ahead in the first half on 38 minutes Zimbabwe after heading home a delightful cross from Onismor Bhasera.
It was a deserved lead for the Warriors who had created the better scoring opportunities but the advantage lasted just four minutes, however, before another cross from the left flank, this time by Francisco Madinga, produced a goal with Mhango poking the ball into the net from close range.
Malawi, who lost injured captain and defender Limbikani Mzava just before the half-hour, left the field at half-time the happier team having survived several scares.
Gerald Takwara and Wadi wasted good close-range chances to break the deadlock in the latest episode of a southern Africa rivalry previously dominated by Zimbabwe.
Despite being pegged back just before the break, the Warriors buoyed by their first-half dominance would’ve been still confident of winning the match.
However, it was the Flames of Malawi, who appeared the hungrier of the two teams after the break and they were rewarded.
Mhango scored what would turn out to be the winner after 58 minutes as he took advantage of some hesitant defending from Teenage Hadebe.
Malawi have three points from two games and lie third in the group behind Senegal and Guinea, who each have four after settling for a goalless draw in the earlier match of the group.
The winless Warriors are anchored at the bottom of the group having lost both of their matches to date ahead of their final group match against Guinea in Yaoundé on Tuesday.