Africa Cup of Nations: what happened at the end of the Tunisia-Mali match?

Jean-François Pérès, edited by Gauthier Delomez

Total confusion at the African Cup of Nations. The referee of the Tunisia-Mali match whistled the end of the game five minutes before regulation time, causing incomprehension between the two teams, before whistling the end four minutes later, once again in advance. The Tunisians, led 1-0, refused to resume the match for a third time.

This is a surreal scene at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations. There are five minutes to go in regulation time for the Tunisia-Mali game on Wednesday late afternoon, and Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe suddenly whistles the end of the match. In the 85th minute, the two teams were flabbergasted as the Malians led 1-0. Not only was there time left, but also the nine substitutions made during the game and the two video assistance interventions should have added additional time. After a brief discussion, the game resumes, but thereafter the match will end two more times.

A resumption of the match in the middle of a press conference

Shortly after the first resumption of play, even before the end of regulation time, referee Janny Sikazwe brings the whistle to his mouth to announce the end of the match, and does not reverse his decision. The Malians, ahead of the score, raise their arms to the sky, the Tunisians are enraged. But a new twist occurs, this time off the field: in the middle of a press conference, the officials announce that the players must return to the pitch to play the last three minutes. The Malians comply, but not the Tunisians.

Tunisian leaders will lodge a complaint

In the meantime, the referee cannot be found. It is his deputy who notices the absence of the Tunisians and whistles the end of the match for the third time, in a surreal atmosphere at the Limbé stadium in Cameroon.

This third whistle may not be the last. Tunisian leaders have lodged a complaint. It is out of the question for them to recognize the result of this unfinished match which has already entered the legend of the African Cup of Nations. The Zambian referee, however, is not a beginner: he is participating in his fifth CAN behind the whistle.

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