Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe has caused chaos in the 2022 African Cup of Nations [AFCON] after a shocking officiating blunder left the referee embarrassed just four years after being suspended from professional sport on corruption charges.
Group F in the 2022 AFCON consists of Gambia, Tunisia, Mali and Mauritania, not the most star-studded group in the prestigious tournament, however, it was the actions of Zambian official Janny Sikazwe that has made global headlines just one game into the continental competition.
On Wednesday, January 12th, Tunisia took on Mohamed Magassouba’s Mali side in the first game week of the 2022 AFCON group stages, a match that should have been quiet and particularly uneventful.
Heading into the second half of the match, it had been just that, 0-0 with little attacking action from a Mali squad featuring the likes of Djenepo, H.Traore, A.Traore and A.Traore. However, the second half featured a penalty for Mali, cooly converted by Ibrahima Kone in the 48th minute, before former Sunderland player and Tunisian starman Wahbi Khazri missed his chance to convert from the spot just thirty minutes later.
However, it was the actions of Janny Sikazwe that caused controversy around the globe with many fans brandishing the official a disgrace/embarrassment to the sport and calling for his removal from the professional refereeing association.
With five minutes of regulation time still to play and the added time associated with the two penalties in the second half, referee Janny Sikazwe blew the whistle for full time at 85 minutes.
Realising his mistake the Zambian would go on to restart play leading to a red card for Malian striker El Bilal Toure, however, this was not the end to the controversy… at 89 minutes played with no added time yet announced Sikazwe blew his whilst for the second time calling the match to another early finish.
Sikazwe, who was banned between 2018 and 2019 for corruption allegations following his officiating in an African Champions League match between Esperance and Primiero Agosto, did not end his embarrassment there and instead barged into Mali coach Mohamed Magassouba’s post-match conference to inform him that the missing three minutes of added time were going to be played.
Tunisia would, in the end, refuse to play the final three minutes of stoppage time giving Mali the three points in what is surely one of the worst officiated football matches of all time.