Total confusion at the Africa Cup of Nations. The referee of the Tunisia-Mali match signaled the end of the game five minutes before regulation time, causing the two teams to misunderstand, before signaling the end four minutes later, once again early. The Tunisians, led 1-0, refused to resume the match for the third time.
This is a surreal scene at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations. There are five minutes remaining in regulation time for the Tunisia-Mali match late Wednesday afternoon, and Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe suddenly signals the end of the match. In the 85th minute, both 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, play resumes, but afterward 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 put the whistle to his mouth to announce the end of the game, and did not reconsider his decision. The Malians, in front 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 lawn to play the last three minutes. The Malians comply, but not the Tunisians.
Tunisian leaders will lodge a complaint
In the meantime, the referee is nowhere to be found. It is his substitute who notes the absence of the Tunisians and whistles for the third time the end of the match, in a surreal atmosphere at the Limbé stadium, in Cameroon.
This third whistle may not be the last. The Tunisian leaders filed a complaint. It is out of question for them to recognize the result of this unfinished match and already entered into the legend of the African Cup of Nations. The Zambian referee is not a beginner, however: he is participating in his fifth AFCON behind the whistle.