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2021 Afcon: Tunisia and Mali drama delays kick off for Mauritania, Gambia clash by 45 minutes

The controversy from the Tunisia and Mali game resulting from referee errors caused a 45-minute delay in the kick off of the Mauritania versus Gambia game at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Limbe, Cameroon Wednesday evening.

The confusion was as a result of Zambia referee Janny Sikazwe’s wrong timekeeping as he stopped the game twice before the 90th minute mark.

The 2018 World Cup referee first whistled for the end of the game with five minutes remaining before repeating the error with seconds to the end of the game, which eventually stood.

Tunisia were furious and officials stormed on to the pitch in protest. The post-match news conferences were in full swing before officials of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) decided the remaining minutes should be played.

Mali came out onto the pitch again 40 minutes after the controversy began, but Tunisia refused and Sikazwe ended the game for a third time, declaring Mali winners.

“The players were taking ice baths for 35 minutes before they were called back out again,” Tunisia coach Mondher Kebaier said.

“I’ve been coaching for a long time never seen anything like it. Even the fourth official was preparing to lift the board (to show how many minutes of injury-time) and then the whistle was blown.”

The Zambian referee generally had an eventful second half that saw him award two penalties; Ibrahima Kone scoring for Mali while Wahbi Khazri missed Tunisia’s.

He also sent off Mali substitute El Bilal Toure when he challenged for the ball with Dylan Bronn.

As Caf was looking to make up for the errors, it eventually delayed kick off for the Mauritania versus Gambia game by 45 minutes.

Watch scenes from the game below: