Zimbabwe’s hopes of wrapping up early qualification for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations were dashed on Sunday when they suffered a 1-0 defeat in Monrovia.
The result sees the Warriors remain at the top of Group G on eight points, buy they now have the Lone Stars just one point behind them in second place. DR Congo and Congo Brazzaville have six and five points respectively following their 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.
After a quiet opening, Zimbabwe created the first clear chance of the match in the 20th minute. The overlapping Ronald Pfumbidzai pulled a great ball back for Tino Kadewere, who struck his effort wide of the mark.
Liberia tested out Zimbabwe goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda in the 34th minute, with Anthony Laffor seeing his shot on target turned away by the gloves-man, but the flag was up for offside anyway.
Zimbabwe looked the more fluid and threatening team, and just a couple of minutes before the break they should have claimed the lead. A fine move ended with Kadewere turning a defender before firing over the top, when a simple pass would have presented a teammate with a near tap-in.
The cagey nature of the game continued well into the second half, with chances few and far between. Zimbabwe saw Karuru miss out on what would have been a great opportunity, as he was unable to control a relatively simple ball while unmarked in the middle of the box – he was soon withdrawn in favour of Talent Chawapiwa.
In the 70th minute Laffor nearly capitalised on a poor throw out from Sibanda, as he tried to catch the goalkeeper off his line, while seconds later Kadewere had yet another chance at the other end of the field but sent his low straight at Ashley Williams.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 72nd minute, with Tonia Tisdell providing a low cross from the left which handed captain William Jebor a tap-in from close range – The Lone Stars’ goal brought the crowd to life in Monrovia.
The Warriors soon went for broke by throwing on both Ronald Chinyengetere and Evans Rusike in attack, but it made no difference as Liberia took the sting out of the game late on and held on for an impressive victory.
Liberia (0) 1 (Jebor 72’)
Liberia: Williams, Jebor, Johnson, Simujula, Dennis, MacCornel (Kamara 46’), Njie, Laffor (Swen 88’), Dorley, Sherman (Nimely 62’), Tisdell
Zimbabwe: Sibanda, Pfumbidzai, Hadebe, Mudimu, Munetsi, Katsande, Nakamba, Karuru (Chawapiwa 61’), Musona, Billiat (Chinyengetere 81’), Kadewere (Rusike 81’)