Cameroonian Salomon Banga set a trend of defenders scoring Wednesday as his country and Mali moved closer to the African Nations Championship (CHAN) quarter-finals, Burkina Faso remained in contention and Zimbabwe were eliminated.
In a dramatic start to the top-of-the-table Group A clash in Yaounde centre-back Banga put hosts Cameroon ahead and Mali right-back Issaka Samake levelled with only 12 minutes gone.
There were no further goals and the 1-1 draw left both Cameroon and Mali with four points and needing only one more each to reach the last eight of a tournament reserved for home-based footballers.
Burkina Faso outplayed Zimbabwe 3-1 in the second match of a double-header at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in the Cameroonian administrative capital with two more defenders netting.
Left-back Issouf Sosso put the Burkinabe ahead and substitute right-back Issiaka Ouedraogo completed the scoring midway through the second half.
There have been 15 goals in the first 10 CHAN group matches with defenders bagging six, midfielders five and forwards just four.
Partson Jaure equalised for Zimbabwe before half-time and another midfielder, Claver Kiendrebeogo, put Burkina Faso ahead a second time eight minutes into the second half.
Victory lifted the Burkinabe to three points ahead of a final group match against Cameroon on Sunday while only pride will be at stake for pointless Zimbabwe when they face Mali.
It was the first victory in eight CHAN matches for Burkina Faso since they debuted in 2014, and they must secure maximum points again, against the host nation, to reach the quarter-finals.