AFCON2021: Ref Janny Sikazwe steals headline in Limbe

AFCON2021: Ref Janny Sikazwe steals headline in Limbe

Mali, courtesy of Ibrahima Koné’s second-half penalty, edged Tunisia 1-0 in their Group F Opener on Wednesday but the below-par performance of Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe was the trending topic of the day.

Quite early in the game, Mali settled in quickly and they had the first real chance of the game via Boubakar Kouyaté around the opening quarter of the game but his header missed the target by inches.

As the match progressed, the Malians were more possessive and continued to boss their opponents in the midfield, but the Carthage Eagles were strong enough to repel their attacks. However, Mali almost took the lead before the break but Massadio Haïdara’s left-footed drive missed the target by millimeters.

Just a few minutes into the second half, Tunisia conceded a penalty for handball in the box and Koné stepped up to convert for the Malians. That goal woke Tunisia up and they went in search of the equalizer and they were given a controversial penalty following a handball by Moussa Djenepo. Wahbi Khazri stepped up to take the spot-kick but it was saved by goalkeeper Ibrahim Mounkoro to keep the scoreline the same.

Tunisia failed to find a breakthrough for the remainder of the game despite the late sending off of Mali’s El Bilal Touré.

Astonishingly, referee Sikazwe blew the full-time whistle twice before the end of the 90 minutes and no additional time was added. However, it looked as though the remaining minutes of the game will be played but Tunisia, clearly infuriated by the official’s initial error, opted not to return to the pitch as Mali claimed an opening day win at the Limbe Stadium.

In the group’s other game, Gambia claimed their first-ever victory at an AFCON tournament, beating Mauritania 1-0 on Wednesday. Ablie Jallow’s remarkable first-half strike was the difference in the keenly contested game.

Mauritania, who remain without a victory at the AFCON, will face Tunisia in their next game, while Gambia and Mali will face off.

Meanwhile, in matchday one’s last fixture, Ivory Coast beat Equatorial Guinea 1-0 to begin their AFCON campaign with a win. Skipper Max Gradel’s fifth-minute goal, his fourth at an AFCON tournament, was enough to hand Patrice Beaumelle’s men a winning start and control of Group E after Algeria drew goalless with Sierra Leone yesterday.

Photo Credit: AFP

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