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Ref Drama At AFCON Explained

There was unprecedented refereeing drama at the Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday when the match official in charge of Tunisia and Mali’s clash made several dubious decisions. Here is exactly what happened.

Click through the gallery above to see pictures of the reaction to the referee's dubious calls!

The Group F clash was marred by controversial moments as Mali defeated the Tunisians 1-0 thanks to a second-half penalty by Ibrahima Kone.

Before the player converted from 12 yards, referee Janny Sikazwe consulted the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), which took more than two minutes from when the foul for handball in the box was initially called.

Another spot-kick was awarded in the 73rd minute, this time to Tunisia, which again needed confirmation from VAR. Wahbi Khazri later failed to find the back of the net after his effort was saved.

The real drama came, however, when the top Zambian official, who worked at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, called time on the game in the 85th minute in a moment that caused anger among Tunisia’s bench.

Play did resume after Sikazwe realised his error, though there was more controversy when Mali’s El Bilal Toure received his marching orders two minutes later for a reckless challenge on an opponent.

The game then ended in fury and confusion when the referee bizarrely blew for full-time before the end of 90 minutes again, leading to chaotic scenes as members of Tunisia’s staff stormed the pitch to lambast the official. The thought was that, due to the several stoppages, there should have been a lot of added time. 

Referee Causes Huge Drama In Afcon Showdown

It is reported that during his post-match press conference, Mali manager Mohamed Magassouba was informed by Confederation of African Football (CAF) officials that the game would again be resumed but that Tunisia declined the opportunity, perhaps understandably.

Sikazwe and his assistants had to be ushered off the field by security as tensions reached a boiling point. 

Story by @kurtbuckerfield

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