On Wednesday, January 12, the whole world was left in shock when Janny Sikwazwe, the referee in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Group F match between Tunisia and Mali, twice winded up the game before fulltime.
At minute 85 and later at the 89th, the Zambia born official signalled that the game was done 1-0 in favour of Mali thanks to Ibrahim Kone’s goal from a penalty.
For the first incident, play resumed but four minutes later, it would not at the second blowing, leaving the Tunisians furious.
The game that had limited action during the first half, would later ignite straight away at the restart of the second half with halts at various points, which would have seen more time added on but Sikwazwe seems to have not recorded them as shown below.
Due to the hot temperatures in Cameroon, the game in the afternoon at Limbe had two water breaks in the 28th minute and later in the 79th.
Sikwazwe awarded Mali a penalty immediately after the restart when Tunisia’s Ellyes Goris Skhiri handled the ball inside the area.
But with it looking to have not been Skhiri’s intention, it took the Video Assistant Referee a long review but was later confirmed with Kone converting the resultant penalty.
With a quarter of an hour left on the clock, Tunisia claimed that Moussa Djenepo had also handled the ball inside his own box but the referee waved play on.
However, VAR intervened again and after yet another long review, Sikwazwe was invited to check with the pitchside monitor, confirming that the Southampton midfielder had actually blocked the ball with his hand and therefore penalty for Tunisia.
Captain Wahbi Khazri stepped up but his effort from 12 yards was saved by Mali goalkeeper Bosso Mounkoro.
Another big incident happened when Mali substitute El Bilal Toure was sent off the 88th minutes for a poor challenge on Tunisia’s Dylan Daniel Bronn.
Again, the referee was called to the touchline to review the incident but he stuck with his initial decision. Surely with all that that happened, there is no way the game would end at minute 85 nor 89.
However, one would wonder if he was or was not stopping his watch as all these incidents kept on happening?
After the game, Tunisia head coach Mondher Kebaier noted that there should have been at least a minimum of seven or eight minutes of additional time.
Despite CAF ruling that the teams should return on the field of play for the final five minutes, Tunisia refused to as they plan to launch an appeal calling for their AFCON clash against Mali to be replayed following the controversy.