Zimbabwe sprang another CAF African Championship of Nations surprise in Côte d'Ivoire by forcing a 1-1 draw with DR Congo. The Group B result in the central city of Bouake left both countries in contention for semi-final places ahead of the final mini-league fixtures. DR Congo outclassed Libya 2-0 in the opening round three days ago after Zimbabwe had settled for a 2-2 draw against top seeds and title favourites Ghana having led by two goals.
Star striker Mabi Mputu gave the Congolese a 19th-minute lead that was cancelled soon after when Phillip Marufu scored his second goal of a new competition for footballers playing in their national league. Mputu, one of 12 Tout Puissant Mazembe stars in the Leopards' squad, broke the deadlock when his header from a Bedi Mbenza cross flew past goalkeeper Willard Manyatera.
Behind for the first time in the tournament, Zimbabwe's Warriors hit back to equalise eight minutes later when a Marufu header off a corner beat the experienced Muteba Kidiaba. It was a deserved goal as Zimbabwe had started the match at the 25,000-seat Peace Stadium impressively with Edmore Chitato and Marufu close to scoring within five minutes.
But as the opening half closed DR Congo were gaining control and Mbenza was foiled by the woodwork as his team sought to preserve the only 100 percent record among the eight Championship contenders. The Leopards also created the more clear-cut second-half scoring chances with Mputu just off target with a fierce 78th-minute drive and substitute Luyeye Mvete should have done better with a late heading opportunity.
Ghana face Libya later in the second part of a double-header.