AFCON 2022: Tunisia vs Mali ends in chaos after referee blows full-time whistle early

Mali beat Tunisia in a controversial win yesterday.

Tunisia faced Mali in their opening group fixture at the African Cup of Nations.

Ibrahima Kone netted a penalty shortly after the second half resumed, but the goal was overshadowed by controversy at the end of the game.

The referee initially signalled for full-time on 85 minutes, before checking his timings and restarting the match.

The drama didn’t end there, with the ref then blowing the full-time whistle on 89 minutes and 47 seconds.

After two VAR checks, a drinks break, Kone’s penalty and a red card, it was expected that there would be a significant amount of extra-time added - but the game was ended with 13 seconds remaining of regular time.

The whistle led to Tunisia coach Mondher Kebaier and his technical staff racing on the pitch to confront refere Janny Sikazwe, forcing security to escort the Zambian away.

Twenty minutes later, before Mali manager Mohamed Magassouba’s post-match press conference was able to start, tournament organisers ordered the game to resume in order to be played to its conclusion.

However, in more baffling scenes, Tunisia players didn’t return to the field and Mali were declared winners.

Following the controversial defeat, the Tunisia coach said: "He blew for full time and asked us to go to the dressing room, so the players were in their ice baths and then he asked us to come back out.

"In 30 years in this business, I have never seen anything like it.

"It is a difficult situation to deal with. The referee also blew with five minutes left in the first half and then he blew after 89 minutes, 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."

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