The Eagles of Mali claimed their first win of the tournament, but it was the man in the middle that took the headlines
Mali claimed their first three points of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations after beating Tunisia in controversial circumstances.
A 48th-minute penalty from Ibrahima Kone was enough to see the Malians through, albeit the Tunisians missed several chances to equalise.
The Carthage Eagles captain Wahbi Khazri missed a penalty in the 77th minute while Dylan Bronn and Ali Maaloul fired blanks.
However, the Tunisians will feel cheated due to the poor officiating from Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe. The 42-year-old was abysmal. The second half penalty he awarded to the Malians had question marks written all over it.
Also, he committed another blunder in the 86th minute after he awarded Malian forward El Bilal Toure a red card for a yellow card offence. The climax was when he ended the game in the 89th minute.
His decision caused an uproar, and the Tunisian officials ran into the pitch to protest the decision. And if not for the intervention of the stewards, the situation could have escalated.
After about thirty minutes, both teams were told to return to the pitch to conclude the game, but only the Malian Eagles obliged, while the Tunisians refused. In the end, the Malians walked away with the 1-0 controversial victory.
Meanwhile, it is not the first time the 42-year-old would be making dodgy decisions. In 2018, he was banned by the Confederation of African football after his poor officiating in the CAF Champions League match between Espérance de Tunis and Primero de Agosto, which Esperance de Tunis won 4–2.
Sikazwe awarded Esperance a controversial penalty before ruling out an Agosto goal for a perceived foul on the Esperance goalkeeper.
According to the release from the CAF disciplinary committee, Sikazwe was found guilty of corruption, and he was suspended indefinitely. But his ban was lifted by FIFA just two months later.