Afcon referee was suffering heatstroke during disastrous Mali-Tunisia match, official claims

Tunisian coaching staff question referee Janny Sikazwe

The referee at the centre of the chaotic Africa Cup of Nations match between Tunisia and Mali was suffering from heatstroke when he inexplicably blew for full-time twice before the 90 minutes were up, according to Afcon referees’ chief Essam Abdel-Fatah.

Janny Sikazwe was the referee in charge of the bizarre game, which included a debatable penalty awarded to each team and an extremely harsh red card against Mali’s El Bilal Toure, before Sikazwe mistakenly blew for full-time on 85 minutes and then again just before 90, allowing no added time when several minutes were expected.

The game ended with Mali victorious 1-0, and attempts to restart and finish the match were later scuppered because Tunisia were already undergoing recovery ice baths by the time tournament officials intervened.

Afcon’s head of referees Abdel-Fatah claims Sikazwe was suffering from the effects of 34C heat in the coastal city of Limbe, Cameroon, causing him to lose track of time.

“The referee suffered from heat stroke 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.

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“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.”

Tunisia have launched an appeal against the result of the match and have asked for the game to be replayed.

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