Tunisia mulls appeal to replay controversial AFCON clash with Mali

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Tunisia's head coach Mondher Kebaier, center, gestures to the referee Janny Sikazwe of Zambia, claiming that he ended the match early in the African Cup of Nations 2022 group F soccer match between Tunisia and Mali at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium in Limbe, Cameroon, Wednesday , Jan. 12, 2022. (Sunday Alamba)
Tunisia’s head coach Mondher Kebaier, center, gestures to the referee Janny Sikazwe of Zambia, claiming that he ended the match early in the African Cup of Nations 2022 group F soccer match between Tunisia and Mali at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium in Limbe, Cameroon on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. /Alamba via CFP)

Tunisia may launch an appeal to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to replay their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group F match against Mali after the game ended in controversy.

Local media report that the North Africans will petition CAF to overturn Wednesday’s result in which Mali ran out 1-0 winners.

The game’s center referee, Janny Sikazwe, grabbed headlines for controversial decisions, including ending the game twice before the official 90-minute normal time lapsed.

Sikazwe initially blew his whistle to indicate the end of the match in the 85th minute, before he allowed play to resume. He again blew his whistle to end the game before the 90th minute, sparking protests from Tunisian players and technical bench.

The game ended with around 17 seconds of normal time still to play, and with the fourth official seemingly ready to hoist his board to indicate extra time. Tunisia were pushing to level the score as Mali had gone ahead courtesy of Ibrahima Kone.

In the second half alone, two penalties were awarded, eight substitutions were made and the game was twice paused briefly as the referee went to the pitch side monitor to review decisions.

With players already in their dressing rooms, reports indicate that match officials called them out to finish the game but Tunisian players declined.

The controversy captured the attention of global sports media, many of which called the referee out for his decisions.

In a statement on Thursday, CAF said it had taken note of the controversy.

“In relation to the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations match between Tunisia and Mali played in Limbe on 12 January 2022, CAF is gathering all the necessary reports from the officials at the match,” the continental body said on Thursday.

“CAF is forwarding these documents to the competent bodies of CAF.

“At this stage, CAF is not in a position to make further comment until the responsible bodies indicate the way forward.”

Tunisia are scheduled to play their next match on Sunday, January 16 against Mauritania, while Mali are set to play The Gambia on the same day.

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