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Kenyan referee comes to defense of Zambian official after blunders in bizarre AFCON game

Kenyan referee Zacharia Ashira has come to the defense of his Zambian counterpart Janny Sikazwe, after his display during the game between Tunisia and Mali at AFCON.

The referee blew his whistle to indicate the end of the match in the 85h minute, before play resumed after the error only for Sikazwe to again blow before the 90th minute in a bizarre and controversial end to the AFCON group-stage clash.

He then proceeded to show Mali’s El Bilal Touré a straight red card and rejected a VAR review of the card.

Tunisia infuriated by referee’s decision

There was anger and confusion when the match official, especially from the Tunisian camp, who were now subject to a 1-0 defeat despite the referee calling game with time still left on the clock.

The Tunisian team was infuriated by the referees decision.

The second half of the match included two penalties, two incidents which required Sikazwe to check the pitch-side monitor, and five stoppages for substitutions. A cooling break was even required for the game.

However, according to Kenyan referee Ashira, the Zambian official’s credibility should not be judged simply by the events that transpired, adding he is a top referee who should be given a second chance.

Ashira admitted the scenes from the match would trouble any referee as they reflected back on it.

The match officials were escorted off the pitch by security.

There were suggestions that the final minutes of the match would be resumed, despite the game having ended and the players having left the field. Mali coach’s post-match press conference was interrupted as CAF officials ordered the resumption of the game, with the referee changed for the final three minutes.

While the Mali players returned to the pitch, Tunisia opted against it and the result stands.

Sikazwe hospitalized after suffering heatstroke

All is not well with the Zambian referee after Essam Abdel-Fatah, the head of referees at AFCON, confirmed to Egyptian media that Sikazwe had suffered from heatstroke and ‘severe dehydration’ during the match and was subsequently taken to hospital in Limbe, Cameroon.


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