FOOTBALL – CAN 2022: A CONTROVERSIAL PAST FOR THE REFEREE OF THE SURREAL TUNISIA-MALI

On the whistle this Wednesday during the match of the Africa Cup of Nations 2022 between Tunisia and Mali (0-1), the Zambian Janny Sikazwe has provoked the anger of the Eagles of Carthage by whistling the end of the match in the general incomprehension. It is not his first controversy.

It is difficult to understand what went through his head. This Wednesday, Janny Sikazwe was the main actor of the incredible scenario between Tunisia and Mali (0-1) during the African Cup of Nations. On two occasions, he whistled too quickly the end of the match. First, in the 85th minute of the game. After taking the time to look at his watch, the referee of this match went to the edge of the field to send the twenty-two players to the locker room. After a few seconds of general misunderstanding, he went back to the side of the field to send the twenty-two players back to the locker room, before changing his decision and restarting the game. Then in the 90th minute, with ten seconds left in regulation time, Janny Sikazwe decided to stop the game for good.

This obviously provoked the anger of the Tunisians. But after half an hour of hesitation, the officials decided to restart the game, for three minutes of additional time. With the fourth referee on the whistle rather than Janny Sikazwe, who did not return to the field. The Malians then made their comeback, unlike the Tunisians. Due to the absence of one of the two teams, the new referee sealed the end of the match… for the third and last time. Janny Sikazwe has yet to comment on this surreal episode. He is 42 years old and is considered an experienced referee. Retained for his sixth CAN, he also participated in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where he refereed Belgium-Panama and Japan-Poland in the group stage. He also officiated at the end of 2021 during the Arab Cup.

A big controversy in 2018

But he was most in the news in 2018. As reported by the Daily Mail, he had been accused of corruption by the Angolan club Primeiro the Agosto after an African Champions League match against Esperance of Tunis. Beaten in the semi-final (1-0), the Tunisians had secured their ticket to the final by winning the return match (4-2). A match during which a goal had been denied to the Angolan club. “Real and Barça would not have managed to qualify today. It’s a shame. I’ve never seen a match like that in my career. It was a war, not a soccer match,” Primeiro the Agosto coach Zoran Manojlovic said, as reported by RFI. The Daily Mail and Goal report that Janny Sikazwe was temporarily suspended by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) after this controversy. He had finally been cleared by the body in January 2019.

This Wednesday in Cameroon, Sikazwe was first at the center of an uninspiring game, whistling two penalties for hands. Malian Ibrahima Koné converted his, while Wahbi Khazri was denied by the keeper. After the match, Tunisia announced its desire not to leave it at that, confirming the filing of a reserve. “He deprived us of seven or eight minutes of extra time, and we were playing with eleven against ten (since the exclusion of El Bilal Toure in the 87th). It’s been almost 30 years that I’m in soccer, I’ve never seen a situation like this … “, said the Tunisian coach Mondher Kebaier about the refereeing.

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