2021 AFCON organisers uphold Mali’s 1-0 win over Tunisia… CAF might not punish Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe

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The organizers of the 2021 AFCON (Africa Cup of Nations) have concluded that Mali’s 1-0 controversial win over Tunisia would stand despite the mass protest from the Tunisia football association.

Recall that on Wednesday, January 12, the world of football witnessed one of the most controversial moments in the game when referee Janny Sikazwe who officiated the 2021 AFCON match between Tunisia and Mali stopped the match twice before the official stoppage time.

In the 85:06 minute of the match, the referee decided to blow the full-time whistle seven minutes after a cooling break. When he realized his mistake, he returned the ball to Tunisia goalkeeper Bechir Ben Said to get the game back on track.

To the dismay of everyone following the game especially the officials of the Tunisia national team, the Zambian referee blew the full-time whistle again in the 89:42 minute.

At that point, the Tunisia officials could not take the erroneous call and had to take to the pitch to protest against the referee’s decision. The officials could not believe that the referee did not allow the game to end in the official 90th minute and also did not give room for an additional time despite the 7 minutes cooling break and the fact that the game was stopped twice for VAR reviews.

2021 AFCON organisers uphold Mali's 1-0 win over Tunisia... CAF might not punish Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe
Tunisia officials tried to get an explanation from referee Janny Sikazwe after stopping the game before stoppage time.

Forty minutes afterward, the organizers of the 2021 AFCON decided to ask the two teams to return to the pitch to complete the game. Mali returned but Tunisia failed to show up.

At the end of the day, Tunisia took their protest to the African football governing body, CAF. The football body met on Thursday to look at the situation and concluded that Mali’s 1-0 win over Tunisia stands.

“The organizing committee has decided to dismiss the protest lodged by the Tunisian team. To homologate the match result as 1-0 in favor of Mali”, CAF said in a statement.

Meanwhile, it is not looking like CAF would sanction referee Janny Sikazwe despite his embarrassing decision to end the AFCON game between Tunisia and Mali before the official stoppage time.

AFCON’s head of referees, Essam Abdel-Fatah, came to the defense of the 42-year-old Zambian referee by revealing that Sikazwe made the erroneous decision because he was suffering from heatstroke and severe dehydration during the game.

It was reported that the referee had to be rushed to the hospital for medical attention after the game

“The referee suffered from heatstroke and very severe dehydration, which led to him losing focus and was taken to the hospital”, Abdel-Fatah told MBC Egypt’s Al-Laib.

“It caused him to lose time in the 80th minute, and he ended the match in the 85th minute. He returned after directions from the assistant staff and then returned to finish the match in the 89th minute.

“When the crisis occurred and the objections and control were lost in the match, the fourth referee was the one who was going to complete the match [instead of Sikazwe], but one of the two teams refused.”

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