Tunisia 0 – 1 Mali

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The Africa Cup of Nations Group F match between Tunisia and Mali was plunged into chaos on Wednesday after the full-time whistle was blown twice before the 90th minute.

The game itself was a tale of two penalties as Ibrahima Kone converted his attempt after a handball, but Tunisia’s Wahbi Khazri could not follow suit as his effort was saved by Mali goalkeeper Ibrahima Mounkoro 13 minutes from time.

Zambia referee Janny Sikazwe then initially blew for the end of the game with 85 minutes on the clock, his timekeeping obviously letting him down. But after correcting himself he still ended the match in the 90th minute, despite a number of stoppages in the second half, including two VAR checks.

Tunisia were furious and officials stormed the pitch in protest, but the man of the match trophy was handed out and the post-match news conferences in full swing before Confederation of African Football (CAF) officials decided the remaining minutes should be played.

Mali came out onto the pitch to play 40 minutes after the controversy began, but Tunisia refused to play on and Sikazwe ended the game for a third time.

Tunisia manager Mondher Kebaier remonstrates with the officials after the second full time whistle

Timeline: How the late chaos unfolded

  • 85:06 – Referee Janny Sikazwe blows full-time whistle seven minutes after a cooling break. He appears to realise his mistake soon afterwards and returns the ball to Tunisia goalkeeper Bechir Ben Said.
  • 86:10 – Ben Said gets the game back under way with a short pass out from his penalty area.
  • 86:44 – Mali’s El Bilal Toure shown red card after catching Dylan Bronn’s ankle on the halfway line.
  • 87:55 – Sikazwe reviews the incident on the VAR monitor and then upholds his decision.
  • 89:42 – Full-time whistle blown prematurely for a second time, with the Tunisian coaching staff taking to the pitch to express their disbelief and confusion.

After a dull first half, Mali made a bright start to the second and after just a minute were awarded a penalty when Boubacar Kiki Kouyates shot struck the hand of Elyas Skhiri as the Tunisia midfielder turned his back on the ball.

Kone then stepped up to easily convert the penalty and give his side the lead.

Bronn forced a first save out of Mali goalkeeper Ibrahima Mounkoro with a 35-yard drive that he had to push away for a corner, but Tunisia had an even better chance to equalise.

It was Moussa Djenepo who handled the ball this time and, after consulting VAR, Sikazwe awarded the spot-kick. However, Khazri’s fierce shot was beaten away by Mounkoro as the keeper made an excellent stop.

Mali finished the game with 10 players after a harsh red card for El Bilal Toure when he challenged for the ball with Dylan Bronn and was fractionally late.

The result follows the trend of 1-0 win at the finals, with this the seventh in the 10 games played to date.

What’s next?

Both teams are back in action for their second Group F matches on Sunday, January 16. Mali face Gambia at 1pm, while Tunisia take on Mauritania at 4pm. Both matches are live on Sky Sports Mix.


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