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Referee of controversial Mali-Tunisia reportedly has health challenges

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Tunisia head coach Mondher Kebaier protests to referee Janny Sikazwe after he blew up early

As per a report by Daily Mail of UK, Zambian referee, Janny Sikazwe who twice prematurely ended the Africa Cup of Nations duel of Mali and Tunisia has been revealed to have had health challenges.

It was revealed by the publication that Sikazwe was suffering from ‘heat stroke and severe dehydration’ and was taken to hospital after he twice blew for full-time early during chaotic Tunisia vs Mali clash.

The revelation was attributed to AFCON referees’ chief, Essam Abdel-Fatah who reportedly defended the performance of the referee.

 He insisted the referee  was suffering from the effects of the 34-degree heat level and 65 per cent humidity in Limbe, Cameroon. 

‘The referee suffered from heat stroke and very severe dehydration, which led to him losing focus and was taken to the hospital,’ Abdel-Fatah told MBC Egypt’s Al-Laib.

‘It caused him to lose time in the 80th minute, and he ended the match in the 85th minute. He returned after directions from the assistant staff and then returned to finish the match in the 89th minute.

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‘When the crisis occurred and the objections and control were lost in the match, the fourth referee was the one who was going to complete the match [instead of Sikazwe], but one of the two teams refused.’

The Zambian referee officiated at the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Meanwhile, Tunisia have appealed for their Group F opener to be replayed . Around 35 minutes after the match was prematurely halted the teams were asked to come back out by AFCON officials, but Tunisia refused as they were already recovering in ice baths, manager Mondher Kebaier revealed. 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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