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AFCON 2021: Referee blows full-time early twice; furious Tunisia protest after 0-1 loss against Mali

Referee Janny Sikazwe blew the final whistle early twice during the Africa Cup of Nations 2021 clash between Tunisia and Mali — resulting in the game ending 11 seconds before the 90-minute mark.

football AFCON 2021 Tunisia vs Mali Referee blows full-time whistle early twice as drama grips Africa Cup of Nations
Cameroon, First Published Jan 12, 2022, 9:19 PM IST
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A bizarre incident rocked the Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday, which has sparked massive outrage among football fans. Referee Janny Sikazwe blew the final whistle early twice during Tunisia's clash against Mali held at the Limbe Stadium in Cameroon, resulting in the game finishing 11 seconds before the 90-minute mark.

Sikazwe blew the full-time whistle in the 85th and 89th minute of the Group F game after a red card and two penalties took the contest by storm. 

The game ended after 89 minutes and 49 seconds, which led to the Tunisia coaching staff protesting and questioning the referee's call to end the game early. The Zambian referee earlier blew the full-time whistle in the 85th minute of the match before being prompted to carry on.

In between 4 minutes, Sikazwe handed over a red card to Malian midfielder El Bilal Toure for a challenge in the 87th minute. The referee was asked to review the challenge by VAR and checked the pitchside screen before staying with his decision.

Two contentious penalties were also awarded for handball. While Mali scored, Tunisia missed, resulting in a 1-0 win for Mohamed Magassouba's side.

In the aftermath of the early full-time whistle, Tunisia's boss Mondher Kebaier furiously grabbed the arm of the Zambian referee and pointed to his watch. This was followed by the backroom staff joining the protest, with Kebaier evening confronting the linesmen to complain about the game coming to a premature end.

Soon, security surrounded Sikazwe and his two officials and escorted them out of the Limbe Stadium. The post-match press conference also has been called off. CAF officials, meanwhile, have reportedly said that the game should continue for five more minutes.

Janny Sikazwe refereed the AFCON 2017 final between Cameroon and Egypt. He was also the referee for the 2016 Club World Cup final and two games at the 2018 World Cup. The Confederation of African Football had in 2018 suspended him following a CAF Champions League match.

Also read: AFCON 2021: Eric Bailly unfazed by AC Milan links, focused on Ivory Coast's opening game vs Equatorial Guinea

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