Massive controversy has covered Mali’s 1-0 win over Tunisia after Zambiam referee Janny Sikazwe blew the whistle too early. He ended the game in the 89th minute.
The West Africans earned the victory after Ibrahima Kone converted a penalty in the 48th minute. But that was far from the real story.
Referee Sikazwe was the lead role.
He first tried to end the match in the 85th-minute, before quickly realising he made a mistake and the action restarted.
He then harshly red-carded Mali’s El Bilal Toure for a strong tackle. The VAR called him over to take a second look, but he stuck to his decision.
Before the climatic drama at the premature end of the match, Tunisia’s Wahbi Khazri did have a chance to draw level from the penalty post. But his well-taken penalty met an even better save from Mali goalkeeper Ibrahima Mounkoro 13 minutes from time.
Sikazwe then went on to end the match on 89 minutes, despite a number of stoppages in the second half, including two VAR checks.
Needless to say, the Tunisian bench erupted before running to the Zambia referee in attack, but the security officials moved faster to protect the man in the middle.
Meanwhile, Mali’s next game will be against Gambia on Sunday, while Tunisia will battle Mauritania on the same day.