Zimbabwe are heading home from the African Nations Championship in Cameroon after losing their third successive game and finishing bottom of Group A.
Demba Diallo netted the lone goal for Mali against the Warriors Zimbabwe at the Reunification Stadium in Douala, which ensured Mali topped the group with hosts Cameroon in second place.
Zimbabwe started at a high tempo and might have gone ahead after three minutes when Qadr Amin missed a good scoring opportunity.
But Mali then took charge with Diallo scoring after 12 minutes and Issaka Samake and Siaka Bagayoko coming close to increasing the lead.
Mali’s goalkeeper Djigui Diarra parried away Farawe Matare’s close shot after 34 minutes for a corner.
In the second half, Mali intensified their attack, but poor finishing proved their undoing.
On the stroke of full time, Mali’s substitute Bassekou Diabate outpaced Zimbabwe’s advancing goalkeeper but his shot hit the post.
Zimbabwe had already been eliminated coming into the game after losing the opening game of the tournament 1-0 to Cameroon and then suffering a 3-1 loss at the hands of Burkina Faso, who have also been knocked out of the tournament.