‘Inexplicable decision’: Tunisian officials furious after referee ends African Cup of Nations match against Mali early

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A group stage game at the Africa Cup of Nations was thrown into chaos after the full-time whistle was twice blown before the full 90 minutes.

Zambian referee Janny Sikawe was in charge of the Group F match between Tunisia and Mali when he initially ended the match after 85 minutes.

After the game restarted, he ended the match in the 90th minute, despite a number of stoppages, including two VAR checks.

Soccer Football - Africa Cup of Nations - Group F - Tunisia v Mali - Limbe Omnisport Stadium, Limbe, Cameroon - January 12, 2022 Tunisia coach Mondher Kebaier remonstrates with the referee Janny Sikazwe after the match REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
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Tunisia coach Mondher Kebaier (centre) remonstrates with the referee Janny Sikazwe after the match

Mali won the match 1-0, thanks to an Ibrahima Kone penalty after Tunisia’s Wahbi Khazri’s effort from the penalty spot was saved by Mali’s goalkeeper, Ibrahima Mounkoro, 13 minutes from time.

Tunisia’s players and coaching staff were furious, with officials storming onto the pitch in protest.

Post-match presentations were in full swing before officials from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) decided the remaining minutes should be played.

Mali’s player returned to the pitch 40 minutes after the whistle was blown incorrectly, but Tunisia refused to play on, and Mr Sikazwe ended the game for a third and final time.

More on Africa

Soccer Football - Africa Cup of Nations - Group F - Tunisia v Mali - Limbe Omnisport Stadium, Limbe, Cameroon - January 12, 2022 Mali's Falaye Sacko with Tunisia's Hannibal Mejbri after the match REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
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Manchester United and Tunisia attacking midfielder Hannibal Mejbri demonstrates with a Mali player after the match

Tunisia manager furious at ‘inexplicable’ decision

While there has been no official statement from the tournament’s organisers, Tunisia’s head coach, Mondher Kebaier, was visibly angry after the game.

He and his staff stormed the pitch in protest and after the game, he said: “I’ve been in this business for 30 years and it’s the first time I’ve seen this situation.

“This decision is inexplicable, I cannot understand how he took it. We will see what will happen.”

Soccer Football - Africa Cup of Nations - Group F - Tunisia v Mali - Limbe Omnisport Stadium, Limbe, Cameroon - January 12, 2022 Security protect referee Janny Sikazwe as he walks off the pitch after the match REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
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Security protects referee Janny Sikazwe as he walks off the pitch after the match

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