The Confederation of African Football has dismissed Tunisia’s protest at the controversial end to their Africa Cup of Nations Group F game against Mali.
Tunisia had lodged an appeal against the 1-0 result after the game ended prematurely. The North Africans were pushing for an equalizer against the West Africans who had a man sent off as the game wound down.
The game’s center referee, Janny Sikazwe, has been a major talking point since that game 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.
In a statement, CAF said its Organizing Committee had examined Tunisia’s protest but dismissed it and homologated the match result as 1-0 in favor of Mali.
The statement did not however mention anything about the referee.
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.