Something you didn’t know

Janny Sikazwe was destined to make a name for himself. According to Felix Tangawarima, FIFA referee instructor, Sikazwe has the “ability” to be the second African referee to officiate the FIFA World Cup final. And having handled the 2016 FIFA World Club final between Real Madrid and Kashima Antlers, he was on track to get global recognition.

On Wednesday, Sikazwe earned that universal attention in the most bizarre way. The clip of his dramatic performance while handling the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) clash between Mali and Tunisia has been causing a stir across social media, with several people drawing different conclusions.

The 43-year-old Zambian prematurely blew for full-time twice while a red card and two penalties also stirred controversy.

Sikazwe blew the final whistle on 85 minutes to the dismay of spectators, players, coaching crew.

The Zambian official, however, restarted the match after he was notified, but he created more controversy by blowing the final whistle again a few seconds to 90 minutes — without adding extra time.

This infuriated Mondher Kebaier, Tunisian coach, and his staff, who charged to the field to express their anger. Security guards were then required to escort the officiating team off the pitch.

Officials of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) intervened much later, but while the Malians showed up, the Tunisians failed to return to the pitch, prompting CAF to award the match to Mali.

Referee Janny Sikazwe blew the final whistle early twice during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations fixture between Tunisia and Mali — ultimately ending the game 11 seconds before the 90 minute mark.

The game ended after 89 minutes and 49 seconds, with the Zambian referee having already blown up in the 85th minute, before then being exhorted to carry on.

Tunisia’s coaching staff protested after the game, questioning the referee’s decision to end the game on the pitch.

Something you didn’t know

In between, Zikazwe gave Malian midfielder El Bilal Toure a red card for an innocuous-looking challenge in the 87th minute. He was asked to review the challenge by the video assistant referee and checked the pitchside screen, before staying with his decision.

Two controversial penalties were also awarded for handball. Mali scored their spot-kick while Tunisia missed, with Mali holding a 1-0 lead when the final whistle was blown.