Guinea finished top of Group D of the TOTAL African Nations Championship (CHAN) after playing out to a 2-2 draw against Tanzania in Douala on Wednesday night.
The Syli National rallied from 2-1 down at the Reunification Stadium to draw the game and cement top spot in the group with five points as they edge Zambia on goal difference.
The Taifa Stars crash out despite their heroics of having four points and playing attractive football during the tournament designed exclusively for home-based players.
Yakhouba Barry put the West Africans in the lead after dispatching a penalty in the 4th minute but Tanzania responded with Baraka Majogoro’s 20-yard screamer.
Baraka Majogoro put the Taifa Stars in the lead but Victor Kantabadouno’s late header salvaged the draw for the Guineans.
The West Africans will now advance and play their quarter-final clash against Rwanda at the Limbe Stadium on Sunday.
The Sylli National started the match promisingly and raced into the lead thanks to a 4th minute penalty converted by striker Yakhouba Barry.
The Horoya attacker sent goalkeeper Aishi Salum Manula the wrong way after one of his defenders was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.
The Taifa Stars responded and came back into the game strongly by controlling the midfield exchanges and creating some anxious moments for the Guinean defenders.
Tanzania captain Shomari Kapombe unleashed a belter in the 20th minute and Guinea goalkeeper Camara Moussa produced an outstanding save by diving to tip it over.
Moments later Camara could not stop Baraka Majogoro from scoring one of the finest goals of this tournament with a volley from just outside the box after the Syli National defender failed to clear their lines properly.
The action was subsequently centred in midfield with the brightest chance falling to Victor Kantabadouno whose bicycle kick in the box went narrowly wide.
The Wakriya striker attempted another audacious attempt just before the break with his back facing the net but it did not cause any discomfort for goalkeeper Manula.
The match resumed and two sides resorted to midfield action and created little opportunities until the 65th when Guinea Mory Kante midfielder laid a decent pass to Mohammed Traore who failed to score with just goalkeeper Manula at his mercy.
Guinea were instantly punished for failing to take their chance as an unmarked Edward Manyama rose highest to head in from a corner kick to put his side into the lead in the 68th minute.
The goal sparked the Syli National into action and they bombarded the Tanzania area with a flurry of attacks which caused some anxious moments for the Taifa Stars.
Faridi Shah made a goal line clearance before Manula dived to his left to prevent Kantabadouno header from drawing level.
But the Wakriya striker made amends in the 82nd minute when he rose beautifully to head in from Mohammed Bangoura’s cross from the left to restore parity.
The Guineans pushed more men forward in search of the winner and Manula came out of his to deny Barry from scoring after a swift counter-attack which proved to be the last chance of the match.
Mohamed Kanfoury Bangoura (Coach, Guinea)
It's tough playing against a team that has nothing to lose. In the first half I think they pushed us to play long balls. They were physically much taller and determined. I think when we came back around the last 20 minutes, we went through the sides, we went through crosses keeping them in their half of the field and I think that is what made the difference.
Etienne Ndayiragije (Coach, Tanzania)
Guinea's early goal gave us problems, we didn't turn things around at one point in the game but the goal of the break never came, the Guineans had the time to equalize. I have to say the content was good, the players were combative and hardworking. Football is sometimes cruel, you can play badly and win, play well and lose. We are certainly eliminated but with heads high.