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AFCON: Mali's win over Tunisia stands despite referee chaos that caused controversial ending

Mali's 1-0 Group F win over Tunisia at AFCON stands after referee Janny Sikazwe prematurely blew the full-time whistle on two occasions; Confederation of African Football decides to dismiss Tunisia's protest at result despite controversial ending

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There were incredible scenes at the Africa Cup of Nations as the referee blew for full-time at 85 and 89 minutes in the game between Tunisia and Mali!

Mali's victory over Tunisia will stand at the Africa Cup of Nations despite the referee causing chaos by twice blowing the final whistle too early.

The tournament's organising committee met late Thursday in Cameroon to ratify Mali's 1-0 Group F win the previous day after Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe's errors sparked confusion and anger.

Sikazwe initially blew for the end of the game with 85 minutes on the clock, his timekeeping obviously letting him down. But after correcting himself he still ended the match in the 90th minute, despite a number of stoppages in the second half, including two VAR checks.

Tunisia were furious and officials stormed the pitch in protest, but the man of the match trophy was handed out and the post-match news conferences in full swing before Confederation of African Football (CAF) officials decided the remaining minutes should be played.

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Highlights of the Africa Cup of Nations Group F match between Tunisia and Mali

Mali came out onto the pitch to play 40 minutes after the controversy began, but Tunisia refused to play on and Sikazwe ended the game for a third time.

Tunisia lodged an official protest over Sikazwe's actions with CAF but after examining their appeal and all of the match officials report, CAF said in a statement: "The organising committee has decided to dismiss the protest lodged by the Tunisian team. To homologate the match result as 1-0 in favour of Mali."

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Former Ivory Coast defender Sol Bamba reacts to the chaotic events of Tunisia's game against Mali and says the controversy should not overshadow the world-class talent on display

Timeline: How the late chaos unfolded

  • 85:06 - Referee Janny Sikazwe blows full-time whistle seven minutes after a cooling break. He appears to realise his mistake soon afterwards and returns the ball to Tunisia goalkeeper Bechir Ben Said.
  • 86:10 - Ben Said gets the game back under way with a short pass out from his penalty area.
  • 86:44 - Mali's El Bilal Toure shown red card after catching Dylan Bronn's ankle on the halfway line.
  • 87:55 - Sikazwe reviews the incident on the VAR monitor and then upholds his decision.
  • 89:42 - Full-time whistle blown prematurely for a second time, with the Tunisian coaching staff taking to the pitch to express their disbelief and confusion.

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Tunisia head coach Mondher Kebaier was shocked by the farcical end to their Africa Cup of Nations game against Mali

AFCON hits and misses: Aboubakar shining, Salah struggles

With all 24 nations having played at least one game at this year's Africa Cup of Nations, we take a look back at the best performers and who has had a week to forget with African football journalist Usher Komugisha.

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He discusses the form of Cameroon striker Vincent Aboubakar, the struggles of Egypt and Mohamed Salah, and the fallout to that chaotic end to Tunisia's defeat to Mali.

Sky Sports to show AFCON live

The Africa Cup of Nations tournament will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in January and February.

The tournament, originally scheduled to be played in June and July 2021, will be played in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2022, with Sky Sports showing all 52 games live.

Twenty-four teams will take part, culminating in the final on February 6 in the capital.

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