Crazy scenes at Afcon as referee Janny Sikazwe twice blows too early for full-time in Mali's 1-0 win over Tunisia

Mali's 1-0 win over Tunisia saw referee Janny Sikazwe twice blow his whistle for full-time before the 90th minute in a bizarre and controversial end to the Afcon group-stage clash.

Zambian official Sikazwe initially blew his whistle to indicate the end of the match in the 85h minute, before play resumed after the error only for Sikazwe to again blow before the 90th minute.

The game finished after the second mistake, with around 17 seconds of normal time still on the clock, sparking outrage from Tunisia's players and coaching staff, who were attempting to overturn a 1-0 deficit.

Watch as ref blows for FT too early (UK & US users only)

What's happened?

There was huge controversy in the Afcon group-stage fixture between Mali and Tunisia, with Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe at the centre of all the drama.

Sikazwe blew for full-time before the 90th minute on two occasions, the second time to officially signal the end of the match despite there being around 17 seconds of normal time remaining.

There was also the potential for stoppage time to be added, with VAR checks having taken place, as well as a red card being issued and two penalties being awarded.

Mondher Kebaier, Tunisia national teal coach, Afcon 2021

Will the game be replayed?

There were suggestions that the final minutes of the match would be resumed, despite the game having ended and the players having left the field.

Mali coach Mohamed Magassouba had been holding a post-match press conference before it was reportedly interrupted as CAF officials contemplated the scenario of a resumption.

Indeed, around 20 minutes after full-time the Mali players reemerged onto the pitch at Limbe Stadium and were willing to see out what was left on the clock.

Tunisia reportedly refused however, with the game officially ending as a 1-0 win for Mali.

What has been the reaction?

Mali coach Magassouba told reporters: "I told the players that we can only control what is on the pitch. Off the pitch, that's up to the administrators.

"When we were told to go back out and play, the players were more than willing. Unfortunately, our opponents didn't want to come out."

Tunisia manager Mondher Kebaier gave his version of events, adding: "It's very tough to manage non-sporting affairs.

"At the 85th minute he (Sikazwe) blows the final whistle. Again at the 89th minute. There was supposed to be seven-eight minutes of additional time. His decision is inexplicable.

"The players were taking ice baths for 35 minutes before they were called back out again. I’ve been coaching for a long time and never seen anything like it.

"Even the fourth referee was preparing to lift the board [to show the additional time to be added] and then the whistle was blown."

Sikazwe banned in 2018

Zambian referee Sikazwe was suspended from involvement in African football back in 2018 on suspicion of corruption.

Sikazwe, who also refereed at the 2018 World Cup, saw his officiating called into question during a CAF Champions League semi-final clash between Tunisian side Esperance and Angolan club Primeiro de Agosto.

Esperance would win the game 4-2, with Sikazwe awarding a controversial penalty to the hosts before he later disallowed an Agosto goal.

A statement from CAF that was released at the time read: "The chairman of the CAF disciplinary board decides that there is good ground to hold a hearing regarding allegations of corruption made against Mr Janny Sikazwe.

"Mr Janny Sikazwe is provisionally suspended from all football activities related to CAF pending a hearing before the CAF disciplinary board."

The suspension took effect from November 2018 but FIFA later made the decision to lift the sanction in January 2019.

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