Tunisia’s football federation (FTF) filed a formal complaint with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) regarding their game with Mali finishing 13 seconds early.
CAF reject Tunisia complaint in a statement: the Africa Cup of Nations organising committee met on Thursday and rejected the protest but gave no further explanation.
Caf also confirmed the result of Wednesday’s game as a 1-0 win to Mali, which was the score when Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe, said to have suffered sunstroke, blew early.
He had already whistled for full-time after 85 minutes, only to notice his error and continue the match.
Tunisian football federation (FTF) official Hussein Jenaieh had insisted: “We will do whatever it takes to defend the rights of the national team. We are not children.”
FTF media officer Kais Reguez refused to go into details when asked about the nature of Tunisia’s complaint, which he did confirm.
After the match, match referee Sikazwe was reportedly taken to the hospital for treatment, which is why the fourth official was assigned to the failed attempt to continue the game over 20 minutes later.
Tunisia did not show up since some of their players were taking ice baths.
” Caf refereeing official Essam Abdul Fattah told Egyptian media: “The referee had sunstroke, which affected his decisions in the game,”
“After the game, he needed to go to the hospital because the weather was so hot.”
The defending champions Algeria blamed their performance on the heat in Cameroon after their shocking 0-0 draw with Sierra Leone.
How the comedy came to be
Tunisia, the 2004 AFCON champions, went into the competition knowing that Mali, a young and lively team, would be their main group challenge.
They were surprised when referee Sikazwe blew for full-time with only five minutes of regulation time remaining.
Later, the Zambian double-checked his timings and proceeded the game, dismissing a Malian player in the process, only to have the clock read 89 minutes and 47 seconds.
The Mali coach’s ‘post-match’ press conference was cut short when it was stated that the game would have to be restarted to finish, which it never did.
Tunisia defender Bilel Ifa told reporters-“They asked us to get back on the pitch, we didn’t – we had no idea what was going on”.
“We hope the match is replayed. The referee had no idea what was going on since the beginning of the game.”
The act, as well as the potential reputational damage to the African game, infuriated Tunisia’s assistant coach.
Tunisia’s assistant coach Jalel Kadri told reporters-“Unfortunately, we cannot see things like this at this high level in Africa – African Football cannot move forward like this,”
“The referee was “shaken” today. He was even hesitant to check the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), he didn’t even know how to get to the VAR.”