'What on earth': Football world rages over 'bizarre' referee gaffe

Referee Janny Sikazwe (pictured right) walking away from the Tunisian coach and (pictured left) the Tunisian football team raging.
Referee Janny Sikazwe (pictured) made two timekeeping errors in an AFCON football match, which infuriated the Tunisian team. (Images: Football Daily)

The football world has reacted with astonishment after Zimbabwean referee Janny Sikazwe blew the whistle to end the game twice before the 90th minute in the Africa Cup of Nations match between Tunisia and Mali.

Tunisia were 1-0 down in the 85th minute when Sikazwe made the bizarre decision to blow his whistle and prematurely end the match.

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Play restarted after the referee realised his mistake.

He then had time to send off Mali substitute El Bilal Toure in the 87th minute for a rash challenge.

But the madness had only started.

Sikazwe then blew full time again before the 90 minutes were up, according to the clock at the stadium and on TV broadcasts.

He also seemingly ignored that there had been a number of stoppages in the second half, including two VAR checks.

The second gaffe infuriated the Tunisia bench with the coach Mondher Kebaier storming the field.

Referee Sikazwe had to be escorted from the field by security officials and away from the furious Tunisians.

Kebaier called the referee's actions "inexplicable", saying: "He blew for full-time and asked us to go to the dressing room, so the players were in their ice baths, and then he asked us to come back out.

"In 30 years in this business, I have never seen anything like it."

Football world reacts to AFCON referee blunder

Football fans around the world were left stunned at the scenes and weigh-in on the drama.

There had been suggestions the game would be restarted amid reports that organisers had burst into the Mali team's post-game news conference and told coach Mohamed Magassouba that his players had to get back on the field to play another three minutes.

Officials gathered on the field about 30 minutes after the game had ended and were seen in discussions.

The scenes also provoked more sinister concerns because Sikazwe was provisionally suspended by the African soccer confederation in 2018 after being accused of match-fixing and corruption.

with AAP

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