Controversy and confusion reign at AFCON: Who is Janny Sikazwe? The referee who blew the final whistle twice
FOOTBALL By Odero Charles | January 13th 2022 | 3 min read
A Group F game of the Africa Cup of Nations between Mali and Tunisia was ended twice prematurely by Zambian Janny Sikazwe.
Sikazwe signalled the end of the match and a 1-0 win for 10-man Mali in the coastal town of Limbe with the clock showing 89 minutes and 47 seconds.
The Eagles were reduced to 10 men in the closing stages following El Bilal Toure’s heavy challenge on Skhiri.
Sikazwe, who officiated at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, initially blew for the final whistle at 85 minutes as he got his timekeeping all wrong.
Sikazwe seemed to realize his mistake amid strong protests by the Tunisia players and restarted the game soon after.
But after playing on, he repeated the error when he blew for full time once more before the clock had ticked over to the 90-minute mark.
The Tunisians furiously protested that there were several minutes of stoppage time still to play.
Mali coach Mohamed Magassouba was giving his post-match victory press conference when an official entered the room under the stand to indicate that the game would restart with three minutes remaining.
Sikazwe, who later tried to play the final three minutes but the North Africans team did not re-emerge forcing the referee to bring the game to a definitive end when Mali kicked off again.
The astonishing scenes overshadowed what should have been a proud day for Mali, who won the Group F game thanks to Ibrahima Kone's penalty just after half-time.
Mali finished the game with 10 players after a harsh red card for El Bilal Toure when he challenged for the ball with Dylan Bronn and was fractionally late.
Among the tournaments, Sikazwe has refereed at are the CAF Champions League, the FIFA Club World Cup, the Africa Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup.
A Trained teacher, he made a breakthrough as a referee in 2008 when he was called to replace another referee who had failed a fitness test at a CAF Under 20 Championship.
Since then, his career has been on an upwards trajectory.
A referee at the 2015 AFCON, Sikazwe went on to officiate the 2016 Club World Cup final between Real Madrid and Kashima Antlers and the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final between Cameroon and Egypt.
He became the first Zambian referee to take charge of a game at a World cup controlling the whistle in two World Cup 2018 group games between Belgium vs Panama and Japan vs Poland. He was personally suspended by CAF in November 2018 following allegations of corruption during a CAF Championship League game between Esperance and Primiero Agosto.
Esperance beat Rades 4-2, but Sikazwe awarded them a controversial penalty for their opening goal, before ruling out an Agosto goal for a perceived foul on the Esperance goalkeeper.
The ruling of the CAF disciplinary board at the time said: 'The chairman of the Caf Disciplinary Board decides that there is good ground to hold a hearing regarding allegations of corruption made against Mr Janny Sikazwe.
Mr Janny Sikazwe is provisionally suspended from all football activities related to Caf pending a hearing before CAF Disciplinary Board.'
The suspension was put in place in November 2018 but lifted by FIFA in January 2019.
In another match, the Gambia against Mauritania, in Limbe!
Africa Cup of Nations officials suffered another embarrassing moment in the same group as the wrong anthem was played three times for Mauritania ahead of their opening game against the Gambia in Limbe.
The incident came two hours after the first match in Group F between Mali and Tunisia was brought to an end before the clock hit 90 minutes.
Mauritania players looked on in bemusement, some shaking their heads, as two unsuccessful attempts were made to play the country's national anthem before kick-off.
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