The win gives Zimbabwe five points from four matches and is now just a point behind Mali who is on six points.
Zimbabwe now have a strong chance of qualifying after leaders Cape Verde were surprisingly beaten 1-0 by tail enders Liberia in Monrovia, leaving the Warriors just two points behind Cape Verde who still lead the group despite the defeat.
The Eagles of Mali play group leaders Cape Verde in their next match while Zimbabwe have a promising home game against tail-enders Liberia.
Yet all had not looked rosy for the Warriors of Zimbabwe. After the Warriors had taken the lead through Knowledge Musona the Malians equalised though El Hadj Mamanore and looked like they were going to seal a draw which they very much wanted and employed some delaying tactics.
With six minutes remaining the two teams were level at two-all with the Warriors looking like out of contention. Then man of the match Ovidy Karuru conjured the move that resulted in Zimbabwe’s winner.
The French based player waltzed past three defenders, and as he was about to shoot at goal, he was hacked from behind. South African referee, Daniel Bennett, pointed to the spot and up stepped South African based Kaiser Chiefs player, Knowledge Musona. Musona’s initial effort was blocked by the goalkeeper Soumnana Diakite but the referee adjudged that Diakite had moved and ordered a retake. And Musona converted for his second goal of the match.
The two goals also gives Musona his third goal of the 2012 African Cup of Nations campaign. Musona scored the only goal in the one-all draw against Liberia and since then has not played for the Warriors until the game against Mali.
The Warriors could have wrapped up the match earlier in the 26th minute had the linesman Ziakile Siwela not disallowed Khama Billiart’s brilliant effort. The Ajax Cape Town striker had sliced a beautiful strike but the linesman felt Billiart was offside and the goal was overruled.
Coach Norman Mapeza is happy with Zimbabwe’s first win in the campaign but still feels that his team still has a long way to go if it is to qualify for the finals after missing out in 2008 and 2010.
While the top team in each group qualifies for the finals, there are three places reserved for the best placed runners up since the hosts Gabon and Equatorial Guinea qualify automatically.