The game was initially ended after the reff seemed to blow three times to end the game just 85 minutes into the match. After restarting the match, reff Janny Sikazwe sent off Mali’s El Bilal Toure.
The game was apparently ended a second time after 89 minutes and 49 seconds, allowing no stoppage time, despite red cards, VAR reviews and penalties.
Mali coach Mohamed Magassouba’s press conference was interrupted by CAF officials 20 minutes after the full-time whistle, who demanded that the team had to come back out and play the rest of the match.
The game was about to resume 40 minutes after the final whistle. However, Tunisia’s players refused to return on the pitch. This time, the fourth official Helder Martins de Carvalho, blew the final whistle, ending the game for the third time.
Now it looks like Tunisia refused to come out and play the final three minutes
Sikazwe and Mali waited for them and blew the whistle calling off the match
Now it’s officially full time pic.twitter.com/oviP8C9bzX
— Maher Mezahi (@MezahiMaher) January 12, 2022
Tunisia’s coaching staff protested after the game, questioning the referee’s decision to end the game on the pitch.
Tunisia coach Mondher Kebaier later presented his take on the events, claiming his players were already in their ice baths.
“The referee blew for full time, asked us to go to dressing room, players were in ice baths and then he asked us to come back out…he blew in 89th minute.
“In 30 years in this business I have never seen anything like it.“
Two controversial penalties were awarded for handball during the match. Mali scored one penalty kick through Ibrahima Kone while Tunisia missed. Mali was holding a 1-0 lead when the final whistle was blown.
Sikazwe refereed the 2017 AFCON final between Cameroon and Egypt, the 2016 Club World Cup final, and two games at the 2018 World Cup.