CAPE TOWN – Masimba Mambare’s solitary strike helped Zimbabwe to a 1-0 win over Burkina Faso in an Orange African Nations Championship encounter at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on Monday evening.
The win secured the Warriors a place in the Knockout Stages alongside Mali, Nigeria and Morocco.
Zimbabwe will take on Mali in the Quarter-Finals.
Southern Africa’s hopes were pinned on Zimbabwe with South Africa and Mozambique knocked out after failing to progress from Group A.
Bassirou Ouedraogo continued up front for the Stallions while exciting youngster Eric Traore started on the right side of midfield.
Simba Sithole spearheaded Zimbabwe’s attack, with the notable Peter Moyo occupying the playmaker role.
Zimbabwe seemed to take well to the windy conditions which welcomed the players out on the pitch, as they looked threatening from the onset.
First Mohamed Kabore was forced into a fine stop from a powerful free-kick from range in the fifth minute before Peter Moyo sent a thundering effort high and wide.
The Warriors continued to look the more dangerous, but the Stallions defence held firm, much to the frustration of the strong Zimbabwe following who gathered in the stands.
Burkina Faso first chance fell to the feet of Ouedraogo who shot just wide from close range in the 24th minute.
The game started to tighten up as the half drew on, with the Stallions to their credit, starting to look the more likely to open the scoring.
Alassane Sango forced George Chigova into a good save in the 41st minute, the Warriors shot stopper who had yet to concede a goal in the tournament leading up to the game, directed Sango’s effort away from danger with distinction.
It was goalless at the break.
But Athlone stadium erupted in the 56th minute. Kabore seemed to have a hopeful ball from the left flank covered but Masimba Mambare snuck in front of the Stallions keeper before nodding in from close range. 1-0.
Zimbabwe continued to look dangerous, especially on the counter, the Stallions though still posed a threat but when they did manage a shot at goal the impressive Chigova was up to the task in goal.
Kuda Mahachi nearly made it 2-0 with a first-time volley that Kabore expertly saved.
The Warriors held on to book their place in the knockout stage alongside Morocco who beat Uganda 3-1 in the other Group B encounter.
Burkina Faso 0
Zimbabwe (0) 1 (Mambare 56’)
M Kabore, Sango Dayo, Kone, Gouo, To (Sanou 73’), Zoungrana, S. Traore (Tiendrebeogo 78’), Y. Kabore, E. Traore, Ouedraogo
Chigova; Zvirekwi, Ncube, Jaure, Chipeta, Phiri, Mambare, C.Sibande (Muparati 71’), P,Moyo (Machapa 90’), Mahachi, S. Sithole (SN. Sithole 60’)