There was controversy in the just-ended game between Mali and Tunisia at AFCON 2021.

The referee in charge, Janny Sikazwe was at the centre of the controversy with a number of highly contentious calls.

Sikazwe astonishingly blew the final whistle in the 85th minute of the game with Mali ahead 1-0, which caused some confusion among the players and the technical teams of both sides.

After he was corrected on his call and restarted the match, the Zambian referee then harshly sent off Malian forward, El Bilal Toure.

Video: Referee blows final whistle in 85th minute

Despite being asked by the Vido Assistant Referee (VAR) to review the decision, Sikazwe upheld his earlier call.

The referee then bafflingly blew his whistle before the 90th-minute mark, prompting a very upset Tunisian bench to empty onto the field to confront the official.

Sikazwe had to be escorted off the field by security personnel as the Tunisian players and technical staff continued to pursue him.

It was a surprising decision from the referee to end the match without any stoppage time, as the second half had seen nine substitutions, a cooling break and two relatively lengthy VAR checks.

A decision was then taken for the match to resume for five more minutes, with the officials and the Malian team returning to the pitch.

However, the Tunisians refused to play and after waiting for a while, the referee blew for full-time for the third time in the match.

It wasn’t just the people in the stadium who were confused by the referee’s decisions as fans on social media tried to make sense of what they had just seen.

The referee had earlier awarded penalties to either team – Mali scored theirs to take the lead before Tunisia missed theirs.


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