The Warriors’ hopes of ending their forgettable World Cup qualification campaign were dealt a major blow after they conceded a late equaliser in a demoralising draw against Ethiopia in the final Group G encounter at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
South Africa-based winger Kudakwashe Mahachi gave the hosts a good foundation to finally end their winless streak when he broke the deadlock with a well taken long-range strike six minutes before the halftime break.
Just when it seemed like the Warriors would finally end their horror campaign with something to smile about Ethiopia fought back through an 87th leveller from Abubeker Nasir Ahmed.
Zimbabwe’s failure to collect maximum points means they finish bottom of the group with a measly two points from six matches while Ethiopia settled for third on the log with five points.
The Norman Mapeza-coached side started the match well but struggled to create chances with which to test out Ethiopia goalkeeper Teklemariam Shanko.
Ethiopia gradually claimed took control of the match and created a couple of half-chances, with Zimbabwe goalkeeper Taimon Mvula making straightforward saves to keep out efforts from Getaneh Kebede and Shimelis Bekele.
Mahachi however turned the match on its head on 39 minutes when he took advantage of Shanko being out of position to score with a beautifully executed long-range shot, ensuring that the hosts led 1-0 at the interval.
Although Ethiopia created some half chances Zimbabwe maintained their control of the game for most of the second half.
Mapeza introduced Takudzwa Chimwemwe and Germany-based Jonah Fabisch, who made a good impression on his debut for the Warriors.
The Warriors continued to hold on to their slender lead through most of the second half and looked on course for a face-saving first win.
However, Ethiopia’s Abubeker Nasir Ahmed breached the defence, dribbled past an advancing Mvula and tapped home the equaliser in 87 minutes to break the hearts of local fans as the game ended 1-1.
Zimbabwe… .(1) 1
Ethiopia… … .(0) 1