Mali’s victory over Tunisia will stand the African Cup of Nations, although the referee caused chaos by blowing the final whistle twice too soon.
The tournament organizing committee met late in Cameroon on Thursday to confirm Mali’s 1-0 victory in Group F the day before Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe’s mistakes caused confusion and anger.
Sikazwe initially blew his whistle for the 85th minute. After a correction, however, despite a number of interruptions in the second half, including two VAR controls, the match ended in the 90th minute.
Tunisia was furious and officials stormed the pitch in protest, but the men’s trophy was handed out and post-match press conferences were in full swing before African Football Confederation (CAF) officials decided the remaining minutes should be played.
Mali entered the field to play 40 minutes after the start of the controversy, but Tunisia refused to play and Sikazwe ended the match for the third time.
Tunisia lodged an official protest against Sikazwe’s actions with the CAF, but after examining their appeals and all reports from the CAF referees’ match, the organizing committee decided to reject the protest by the Tunisian team.
Timeline: How the late chaos unfolded
- 85:06 – Referee Janny Sikazwe whistles full time seven minutes after the cooling break. He seems to have realized his mistake and returns the ball to Tunisian goalkeeper Bechir Ben Said.
- 86:10 – Ben Said returns to the game with a short pass from his penalty area.
- 86:44 – El Bilal Toure of Mali received a red card after catching Dylan Bronn’s ankle at halfway.
- 87:55 – Sikazwe checks the incident on the VAR monitor and then confirms its decision.
- 89:42 – For the second time, a full-time whistle blew and the Tunisian coaching team stepped onto the pitch to express their mistrust and confusion.
AFCON intervenes and misses: Aboubakar shines, Salah fights
Given that all 24 nations have played at least one match at this year’s African Cup of Nations, we will look back with the African football journalist Usher Komugisha at the best and who had a week to forget.
It discusses the form of Cameroonian striker Vincent Aboubakar, the fighting between Egypt and Muhammad Salah and the impact on that chaotic end of the defeat of Tunisia with Mali.
Sky Sports will show AFCON live
The African Cup of Nations tournament will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in January and February.
The tournament, originally scheduled for June and July 2021, will take place in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2022, with Sky Sports showing all 52 matches live.
Twenty-four teams will take part, the finals will culminate on February 6 in the capital.