The appeal made by the Tunisia national team to have their Africa Cup of Nations opening group game against Mali replayed following the ugly scenes that greeted the tie has been turned down.
Day 4 of AFCON 2021 dominated the headlines for the wrong reasons when the centre referee, Janny Sikazwe, from Zambia, blew for the final whistle in the 85th minute of the Tunisia vs Mali match.
Sikazwe then made matters worse by allowing just four minutes and 40 seconds of action before blowing the final whistle, which sparked a furious outburst from the Tunisia bench led by the manager, Mondher Kebaier.
Though efforts were made to see that the skipped minutes were played afterwards, they were unsuccessful as the Carthage Eagles failed to come back to the pitch.
Rising from the meeting held late Thursday, the organising committee of the 2021 AFCON ruled that Mali’s win stands while Tunisia’s request for a replay has been turned down.
“The organising committee has decided to dismiss the protest lodged by the Tunisian team. To homologate the match result as 1-0 in favour of Mali,” a statement from CAF read.
Explaining why his players did not go back out, Tunisia boss Mondher Kebaier said the ‘inexplicable’ refereeing left no option.
“It’s a difficult situation to deal with,” he told reporters. “The referee also blew with five minutes left in the first half.
“Then he blew after 89 minutes in the second, denying us practically seven or eight minutes of added time.
‘His decision is inexplicable. I can’t understand how he made his decision and we will see what happens now.’
Asked about events after the game in trying to get the players to go back out, Kebaier concluded: ‘He blew for full-time and asked us to go to the dressing room. The players were in their ice baths when asked to come out.
“In 30 years in this business, I have never seen anything like it.”
It was revealed on Thursday that the Zambian referee in the centre of all the chaos was suffering from heatstroke and severe dehydration and had to be taken to hospital after the match.