Zambia are out of the running for a place at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals whereas Zimbabwe have sneaked through.
The Zambians were frustrated to a 3-3 draw by Group H leaders Algeria at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on Wednesday night.
The draw favoured Zimbabwe whose 1-0 win away in Botswana took their tally to unassailable eight points with one game to wind up the group.
Zambia have four points at par with Botswana heading into dead rubbers against Zimbabwe and already qualified Algeria who have 11 points.
The reigning Africa kings were without key players such as Riyad Mahrez but cruised into a comfortable lead.
Ramiz Ghezzal scored in the 18th minute from striker Islam Slimani’s pass.
Seven minutes later, provider turned scorer when the former Leicester City striker Slimani doubled the lead for the visitors.
Thereafter, Zambia’s star striker Patson Daka reduced the arrears from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute.
The Red Bull Salzburg forward scored three minutes after Zambia had made a double substitution.
South Africa-based Nathan Sinkala going off for Rodrick Kabwe whereas Luka Banda paved the way for Lubambo Musonda.
In the second half, Zambia levelled matters through Clatous Chama in the 52nd minute only for Slimani to bag his brace three minutes later.
The visitors made a defensive change later on with Ramzi and Belkebla coming in for Mehdi and Guedioura respectively.
A few minutes later, Farid Boulaya came on for Ramz.
Zambia reacted when Moses Phiri replaced Gamphani Lungu before Spencer Sautu replaced Augustine Mulenga and Collins Sikombe stepped in the shoes of Chama.
The changes galvanised Zambia who should have scored but Daka glanced his header over the bar after meeting a 73rd minute corner kick.
However, there was no denying the Austria-based Daka from claiming his second goal of the night from yet another penalty which he converted in the 79th minute.
Substitute Phiri was brought down to earn the hosts the penalty. Daka thought he had snatched a later winner but his effort was ruled offside.
Zambia: Mwenya Chibwe (1), Adrian Chama (4), Luka Banda (5) Kabaso Chongo 14 (C), Gamphani Lungu 22, Benson Sakala 6, Enock Mwepu 11, Nathan Sinkala 19, Clatous Chama 17, Augustine Mulenga 10, Patson Daka 20
Algeria: Adu-Rais Mbolhi (GK) (C) 23, Hocine Benayada 2, Jean Tahrat 3, Djamel Benlamri 4, Ayoub Adbellaoui 5, Ramiz Ghezzal 7, Baghdad Bounedjah 9, Youcef Belaili 10, Islam Slimani 13, Adlane Guedioura 17, Mehdi Abeid 19
Group H log table
Algeria 5 11
Zimbabwe 5 8
Botswana 5 4
Zambia 5 4