- Referee Janny Sikazwe was at the centre of controversy for ending the game early twice on Wednesday
- Head of referees at AFCON disclosed after the chaotic clash that Sikazwe had suffered heat stroke and needed medical attention
- Sikazwe blew the final whistle on 85 minutes before restarting the clash once again, then blowing 20 seconds to the 90th minute
It has now emerged that the controversial referee at the centre of the Tunisia-Mali game on Wednesday, January 12 suffered heatstroke and had to be rushed to hospital.
Janny Sikazwe made headlines worldwide after prematurely ending the AFCON clash twice.
He initially blew for full time after 85 minutes and with Tunisia searching for an equaliser, their coaching staff were bewildered by the decision.
Sikazwe would allow the game to go on after his gaffe but bizarrely enough, blew once again for full time on 89 minutes.
There were high expectations, particularly from Tunisia fans, that a large chunk of injury time would be added, especially because of the time the officials used to determine Tunisia’s penalty, which Wabi Khazri missed.
The match was not short of off-field events, especially in the second half, as a water break was also required as temperatures in the city of Limbe, Cameroon had soared to 34 degrees, while humidity levels were at 65%.
In the wake of the controversial officiating, Essam Abdel-Fatah, who is the head of referees at AFCON, confirmed that the referee had in fact, suffered heatstroke and dehydration and needed medical attention.
“The referee suffered from heat stroke and very severe dehydration, which led to him losing focus and was taken to the hospital,” Abdel-Fatah told MBC Egypt’s Al-Laib.
It caused him to lose time in the 80th minute, and he ended the match in the 85th minute. He returned after directions from the assistant staff and then returned to finish the match in the 89th minute.
"When the crisis occurred and the objections and control were lost in the match, the fourth referee was the one who was going to complete the match [instead of Sikazwe], but one of the two teams refused."
Amid anger and discontent from Tunisia coach Mondher Kebaier, Sikazwe had to be escorted by security off the pitch.
Tunisia demand Mali replay
In the aftermath of the chaotic game, Kebaier also called on the clash to be replayed, saying the decision to close off the game prematurely was ‘inexplicable’.
“At the 85th minute he blows final whistle. Again at 89th minute. There was supposed to be seven to eight minutes of additional time. His decision is inexplicable,” the gaffer said.