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The chaos of the CAN referees: Explaining what happened at the end of Tunisia against Mali

The 2022 Africa Cup of Nations group match between Tunisia and Mali ended in chaos after the referee twice opted to blow the whistle for the end of the match before the end of the regulatory 90 minutes.

Wednesday’s game at Omnisport Stadium in Limbe, Cameroon was a tense affair, and it ended explosively as Mali emerged from the chaos in a 1-0 win. The opening of Group E also included two penalties and a red card.

It’s unclear if a technical issue was to blame, but the referee opted to blow the whistle full-time early on two occasions before attempting to bring the teams back for extra downtime, which one team refused. categorically.

What happened at the end of Tunisia against Mali?

While Tunisia’s first half against Mali, like many CAN 2022 matches before it, went off without incident and ended 0-0, the second half of the action took off. was much more entertaining.

Early in the half, Mali received a penalty after VAR scrutiny, and 22-year-old Sarpsborg forward Ibrahima Kone dropped the free kick to put the Eagles in front.

As the half progressed, the last 20 minutes exploded. Tunisia received a penalty for a handball in the box, and Wahbi Khazri stepped in to shoot it. Malian goalkeeper Ibrahim Mounkoro rose to the challenge, making a superb diving save to prevent the penalty.

All of this action is noticeable as we come to the events of the last five minutes of play.

In the 86th minute, the referee inexplicably blew his full-time whistle, and the Tunisian coaching staff were furious, all pointing at their watches. The referee realized his mistake and the match continued.

Moments later, the referee controversially produced a direct red card for Malian El Bilal Touré for what appeared to be a trivial challenge. The referee went to the field monitor for a video review of the incident, and replays showed Touré was hanging over the ball and into the shin of a Tunisian player. After review, the referee stuck with his original decision and Tunisia had a few extra minutes with a power play to seek the equalizer.

But then, with 89:40 on the hour, still seconds from full time and not yet from time out, the referee whistled full time again to end the game.

After two penalties, two VAR notices and a red card shown, a good deal of the time out would not only be expected, but it would be necessary. Still, the official concluded the match not only with no extra time, but 20 seconds before the full 90 minutes of regulation. The Tunisian coaching team exploded in anger and protested for a few minutes, but to no avail. The match was over.

What are the consequences of the Tunisia vs Mali controversy?

The controversy did not stop there.

Some time after the final whistle and the teams left the playing area, the referee team realized their mistake. The referees attempted to bring players from both teams back to the field.

As the Malian players returned to the pitch ready to continue, Tunisia refused, unwilling to continue as their players had already returned to the locker room and the emotions were too high.

“He deprived us of concentration,” said Tunisian coach Mondher Kebaier after Tunisia’s 1-0 defeat, quoted by the official CAN website. via CNN. “We did not want to resume because the players had already taken their bath, distracted and demoralized in the face of this horrible situation.”

“The players took ice baths for 35 minutes before being called back again”, Kebaier continued. “I have been training for a long time and have never seen anything like it. Even the fourth official was preparing to lift the table [to show the stoppage time] and then the whistle sounded. “

Due to the controversy, the next match between Mauritania and The Gambia was postponed for 45 minutes.

In addition, Tunisia has lodged an official complaint with the African Confederation (CAF) which apparently has 24 hours to respond.

Tunisia’s complaint is unlikely to garner more than a CAF mea culpa, after officials attempted to correct the mistake. From a sporting point of view, the only possible options would be either to resume the last five minutes at a later date or to replay the game in its entirety, and neither would appear to be a viable option.

What caused the Tunisia vs Mali controversy?

The chaos of the CAN referees: Explaining what happened at the end of Tunisia against Mali
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The most sensible explanation for the problem would be a technical error or a referee error involving the timing technology used. In short: it seems that either the referee’s watch has malfunctioned or he has not used it correctly. The attempt to end the game in the 85th minute gives the most reason to believe that there was an error in the referee’s timing which then resulted in further full-time complications.

It is possible that during the five minute break in the water that occurred earlier in the half, the referee ignored the extra time, which could be a simple explanation. but plausible of why the match ended at 90 minutes rather than including five minutes of stoppage. time.

The CAF is expected to provide more clarity on the incident as soon as possible as it tackles the fallout.

What did CAF say about the controversy?

The African federation made a shocking revelation Thursday after an investigation into the incident. The update sheds light on what may have happened.

CAF refereeing chief Essam Abdel-Fatah said official Janny Sikazwe suffered from heatstroke and dehydration in the final stages of the match, causing the error. Abdel-Fatah confirmed that Sikazwe was hospitalized after the match for his condition, receiving further treatment.

“The referee suffered from heatstroke and very severe dehydration, which caused him to lose his concentration and was taken to hospital,” Abdel-Fatah told MBC Egypt’s Al- Laib, quoted by The independent. “It wasted time in the 80th minute and he finished the game in the 85th minute. He returned after instructions from assistant staff, then came back to finish the game in the 89th minute.

“When the crisis happened and objections and control were lost in the match, the fourth referee was the one who was going to end the match. [instead of Sikazwe], but one of the two teams refused.

Temperatures at the Limbe stadium in Cameroon during Wednesday’s game reached 34 degrees Celsius, or 93 degrees Farenheit.

CAF has not yet rendered its decision on Tunisia’s appeal.

Who was Tunisia’s referee against Mali?

Referee Janny Sikazwe is not new to the controversy.

The Zambia international has been a FIFA official since 2007, with the 2016 Club World Cup final, the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final and two 2018 World Cup matches to his name. However, not all of these events went off without a hitch.

In the 2016 Club World Cup final between Real Madrid and Kashima Antlers, Sikazwe made headlines as it looked like the official prepared to give Sergio Ramos a yellow card before surrendering reckoned that he had already booked Ramos before in the game, and subsequently refrained from giving Ramos a second booking. After the match, Sikazwe explained that the confusion stemmed from poor communication with his assistant referee who spotted the fault, Sikazwe believed he heard his assistant indicate that a card should be shown, before it was clarified that his assistant had instead said “no cardboard”. the earpiece.

Barely two years later, Sikazwe came under fire again for an incident during a CAF Champions League match between Esperance de Tunis and Primeiro de Agosto. After Sikazwe awarded Esperance a controversial penalty early in the match and ruled out a Primeiro goal later, a corruption complaint was lodged and Sikazwe was provisionally suspended, although he was later cleared for lack of evidence .

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