Cameroon— Mondher Kebaier, Tunisia’s coach intimated that he had “never seen anything like it.”
This is after the referee overseeing their match in the African Cup of Nations, against Mali, blew the final; whistle at the end of the match.
Janny Sikazwe, a Zambian official blew for the end of the Group F game in Limbe to signal that Mali had beaten the 2004 continental champions 1-0 thanks to Ibrahima Kone’s second-half penalty.
Tunisians furiously protested that there were several minutes of stoppage time still to play.
Mali coach Mohamed Magassouba was giving his post-match victory press conference when an officer entered the room under the stand to indicate that the game would restart.
Though Mali gave a come back to the pitch the Tunisians did not re-emerge, and so the referee brought the game to a definitive conclusion when the Malians kicked off again.
“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,” claimed Kebaier.
“His decision is inexplicable. I can’t understand how he made his decision and we will see what happens now.”
“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,” Kebaier added.
“In 30 years in this business, I have never seen anything like it.”
The scenes overshadowed what should have been a proud day for Mali, who won the Group F game thanks to Ibrahima Kone’s penalty just after half-time.
Tunisia had the chance to equalize but Wahbi Khazri’s spot-kick at the other end was saved with the game in the final quarter of an hour.
“These are administrative questions. We were told to go back on the pitch because the game was not finished,” said Magassouba.
“Unfortunately the opposition team did not want to come back out and the final whistle was blown.”