Cairo, Egypt, Jun 26 – Knowledge Musona’s incredible open-goal miss proved costly as a wasteful Zimbabwe were held to a 1-1 draw by Uganda at the Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday.
Emmanuel Okwi pounced on a rebound to nudge Uganda ahead on 12 minutes in Cairo but Khama Billiat levelled for Zimbabwe with a glancing finish shortly before half-time.
Uganda edged closer towards qualification for the last 16 after moving onto four points in Group A, leaving Zimbabwe needing to beat the Democratic Republic of Congo in their final game to stand a chance of squeezing through.
Hosts and record seven-time champions Egypt can secure a spot in the knockout rounds later with victory over DR Congo in the second game of the doubleheader.
“I’m sure everyone can agree today we played better than we did against Egypt. We created many chances and we failed to put them away, this happens in football,” said Zimbabwe coach Sunday Chidzambwa.
“This is not the result we wanted, you could see after the game they (Uganda) celebrated,” added Billiat. “We as strikers let the nation down. We need to step up and take more responsibility.”
After winning a Cup of Nations match for the first time in 41 years with Saturday’s 2-0 defeat of DR Congo, Uganda jumped out to a dream start when Okwi bundled home after Abdu Lumala’s low drive was parried by Zimbabwe goalkeeper George Chigova.
Zimbabwe, beaten 1-0 by Egypt in the opening game of the tournament, created a number of chances in response, with captain Musona ballooning over after Billiat’s cutback rolled invitingly into his path.
Billiat dragged another effort wide and a header from Alec Mudimu was nodded to safety, but the former brought Zimbabwe back into the game when he flicked a low Ovidy Karuru cross into the far corner on 40 minutes.
Zimbabwe remarkably failed to grab the lead early in the second half when Musona somehow failed to put the ball into an empty net, spooning against the crossbar from just a couple yards out.
The luckless Warriors again found themselves denied in stunning fashion as Uganda ‘keeper Denis Onyango pulled off a miraculous save to scoop off the line and deny substitute Evans Rusike as his shot span towards goal.
Patrick Kaddu wasted a glorious chance for Uganda when he blazed over from close range after Chigova palmed out a deflected cross, with Taddeo Lwanga bending just wide for the Cranes late on.