The Africa Cup of Nations was plunged into farce on Wednesday afternoon, when the Group F meeting of Mali and Tunisia had to be restarted half-an-hour after ending.
Referee Janny Sikazwe twice blew the final whistle early, much to the consternation of Tunisian officials.
They were 1-0 down to the ten men of Mali in Limbe.
Sikazwe first blew the final whistle with five-minutes of normal time left to play. And then he repeated the trick seconds before the clock had reached 90-minutes.
Mali thought they'd won the game courtesy of a 48th minute penalty from Ibrahima Koné.
😳 The referee has blown the whistle after 89 minutes in Tunisia vs Mali #AFCON
😡 Tunisian coach Mondher Kebaier is furious with the decision to finish the game with no additional time pic.twitter.com/RISJCnclAK
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) January 12, 2022
Despite protests from the Tunisian bench, the players eventually made their way off the field as it looked like the AFCON had produced a seventh 1-0 result from its first ten games.
So deep were they into the post-match formalities, that post-match press conferences were being conducted when tournament officials informed the managers that the game would be restarting.
Mali's players returned to the field, as did Sikazwe with his fellow officials, but Tunisia did not.
The referee once again blew for full-time, handing - it seems - Mali the victory.
Speaking after the event, Tunisia head coach Mondher Kebaier told the media, "The players were taking ice baths for 35 minutes before they were called back out again.
"I’ve been coaching for a long time never seen anything like it. Even the fourth official was preparing to lift the board and then the whistle blew."
Press conference and media activities halted for a 3-minute special match time accorded #TeamTunisia and #TeamMali.Tunisia contested the match on claims that it was stopped one minute to the normal stoppage time#TeamTunisia0️⃣ 🆚1️⃣ #TeamMali pic.twitter.com/4qy5XUCEgq
— CRTVweb (@CRTV_web) January 12, 2022