AFCON; Referee ends match at 85th minute, restarts it, then ends it at 89th minute

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Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe created more than a scene when he blew the final whistle early twice during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations fixture between Tunisia and Mali. He initially blew final whistle at 85th minute, then ended the game 11 seconds before the 90-minute mark.

The game ended after 89 minutes and 49 seconds. This made Tunisia’s coaching staff protested after the game, questioning the referee’s decision to end the game on the pitch.

The game clock is not shown anywhere in the Limbe Stadium in Cameroon, not even on big screens.

A full 20 minutes after the full-time whistle, Mali coach Mohamed Magassouba’s press conference was interrupted by Confederation of African Football officials, with the implication that the final few minutes could place. The game eventually seemed set to resume 40 minutes after the final whistle.

However, while Mali’s players re-emerged on the pitch in their kits, Tunisia’s did not. Fourth official Helder Martins de Carvalho, replacing Sikazwe, blew the final whistle again, ending the game for the third time.

Zambian referee Sikazwe was already the center of controversy as he had initially blown up in the 85th minute of the match, before then being exhorted to carry on.

In between, Sikazwe gave Malian midfielder El Bilal Toure a red card for an innocuous-looking challenge in the 87th minute. He was asked to review the challenge by the video assistant referee and checked the pitchside screen, before staying with his decision.

Two controversial penalties were also awarded for handball. Mali scored their spot-kick while Tunisia missed, with Mali holding a 1-0 lead when the final whistle was blown.

Sikazwe refereed the 2017 AFCON final between Cameroon and Egypt, the 2016 Club World Cup final, and two games at the 2018 World Cup.

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