Referee blows for full-time in Tunisia’s AFCON clash with Mali after just 85 MINUTES… then restarts play, rejects a VAR review of a red card and ends the match 20 seconds early with NO stoppage time
- Janny Sikazwe first blew full time between Tunisia and Mali in the 85th minute
- The AFCON game was restarted but then ended with 20 seconds remaining
- Tunisia were furious with two VAR referrals also taking place in last 15 minutes
- Tunisia then refused to come out with referee and Mali willing to restart game
- Zambia referee Janny Sikazwe therefore blew full time again, this time ending the AFCON match
The Africa Cup of Nations descended into chaos on Tuesday after farcical scenes involving the referee in Mali’s controversial 1-0 win over Tunisia.
Official Janny Sikazwe blew the final whistle after just 85 minutes before restarting play, but then blew again with just 89 minutes and 43 seconds of the Group F clash gone.
His mistake drew a furious reaction from Tunisia’s bench, with boss Mondher Kebaier furiously grabbing the arm of the Zambian referee and pointing to his watch in the immediate aftermath of the full-time whistle.
The Tunisia head coach was then joined by his backroom staff in protesting, with Kebaier confronting one of the linesmen to complain about the game being brought to a premature end with his side losing 1-0.
Security staff had to surround Sikazwe, who refereed at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and his two officials at the Limbe Stadium in Cameroon in order to keep angry Tunisia staff away from them.
Referee Janny Sikazwe (centre) is escorted off the pitch after controversially blowing the full-time whistle twice in Tunisia’s AFCON clash with Mali
Tunisia coach Mondher Kebaier (R) was furious with Zambian referee Sikazwe (L) after his error
The protests continued as Kebaier was joined by angry members of his backroom staff
Mali coach Mohamed Magassouba’s post-match press conference was later interrupted, with Confederation of African Football officials barging in and saying the match would be restarted to play out the final three minutes.
Fans were then seen filing back into the stands as the officials discussed the bizarre situation on the touchline.
However, in a final dramatic twist, Tunisia appeared to refuse to come out and play the remainder of the game, although referee Sikazwe and Mali did wait for them on the pitch.
The Zambian official then blew his whistle once again to call off the match, meaning the 1-0 victory for Mali will stand.
There have since been suggestions that Sikazwe’s double error came after he stopped the match for a five-minute water break, but failed to pause his watch.
Kebaier even confronted one of the linesmen to protest against the referee’s decision
After security had gradually ushered Tunisia’s bench away, the officials followed them off
The game saw two VAR interruptions, the first awarding a penalty to Tunisia in the second half
Wahbi Khazri saw his effort saved by Mali goalkeeper Ibrahima Mounkoro 13 minutes from time
That mistake would have seen his watch run to 90 minutes even though only 85 had actually been played. It has also been suggested that Sikazwe believed the extra four minutes 43 seconds played after his initial full-time whistle was stoppage time.
Tunisia’s coaches, however, were seemingly making a valid point with their initial protests, with two lengthy VAR checks taking place during the Group F clash.
The first VAR review took place with less than 15 minutes of the game remaining, when the technology awarded a penalty to Tunisia following Moussa Djenepo’s handball.
Wahbi Khazri saw his spot-kick saved by Mali goalkeeper Ibrahima Mounkoro 13 minutes from time, leaving Tunisia 1-0 down after Ibrahima Kone’s penalty early in the second period.
Eight minutes after Khazri’s miss, Sikazwe blew the first of his final whistles, though made up for his poor timekeeping by correcting his mistake and allowing the game to resume.
But two minutes later there was yet more drama when El Bilal Toure – brought on by Mali in the 81st minute for Southampton’s Djenepo – was shown a harsh red card by Sikazwe when he challenged for the ball with Dylan Bronn and was fractionally late.
The decision went to VAR, who recommended the referee reverse his decision of dismissing Toure, but Sikazwe stuck by his decision and gave the Reims forward his marching orders.
To compound Tunisia’s fury, Sikazwe blew up with more than 20 seconds of normal time remaining, with no injury time added despite the VAR delays.
It meant Mali continued their run of never losing the first game of an AFCON campaign, with Kone’s 48th-minute penalty sealing a controversial 1-0 victory.
Sikazwe then sent off Mali substitute El Bilal Toure in rather harsh circumstances late on
Mali had taken the lead early in the second half of the Group F clash through Ibrahima Kone
REVEALED: THE REFEREE AT THE CENTRE OF AFCON’S CHAOS BETWEEN MALI AND TUNISIA
The referee at the centre of the chaos in the Africa Cup of Nations match between Mali and Tunisia was suspended for corruption allegations in 2018.
Janny Sikazwe blew for the final whistle in the 85th minute of the match between the two sides before restarting play, rejecting a VAR review of a red card and then ending the match 20 seconds early once again.
He had to be escorted off the pitch after the bringing an end to the game. Mali won the match 1-0.
But four years ago, CAF suspended Sikazwe on suspicion of corruption after the way he handled an African Champions League match between Esperance and Primiero Agosto.
Esperance beat Rades 4-2, but Sikazwe awarded them a controversial penalty for their opening goal, before ruling out an Agosto goal for a perceived foul on the Esperance goalkeeper.
The ruling of the CAF disciplinary board at the time said: ‘The chairman of the Caf Disciplinary Board decides that there is good ground to hold a hearing regarding allegations of corruption made against Mr Janny Sikazwe.
‘Mr Janny Sikazwe is provisionally suspended from all football activities related to Caf pending a hearing before Caf Disciplinary Board.’
He officiated two games at the 2018 World Cup – Belgium v Panama and Japan v Poland.