The referee at the centre of the farcical scenes at the end of the Africa Cup of Nations clash between Tunisia and Mali on Wednesday was suffering from heat stroke and severe dehydration and was taken to hospital after the match, according to the man in charge of officiating at AFCON.

Tunisia have appealed for their Group F opener to be replayed after Zambian official Janny Sikazwe blew the final whistle after just 85 minutes, then again 17 seconds before 90 minutes were up despite viewers expecting a lengthy period of stoppage-time in an incident-packed game, which ended with Mali 1-0 up.

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.

Now AFCON’s head of referees Essam Abdel-Fatah has defended the performance of Sikazwe – who officiated at the 2018 World Cup – by insisting he 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.

‘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.’ -Daily mail


  1. Strange explanation.

    I don’t really buy it coz the referee comes from a hot country.

    There must be another reason. He looked very fit during this whole debacle.

    • What is strange about the explanation? Zambia is not a hot country as you put it. More than 80% of the country lies above 1,200 metres above sea level. The average daily temperatures are below 28 degrees cent. for most districts most of the year with low humidity. In contrast the coastal cities in Equatorial Africa are hot and humid. You have the locally brewed prejudices for not accepting a clearly logical explanation for the referee’s unusual conduct.

      • This guy has even handled games in the middle East. Temperatures there can reach 50 degrees Celsius.

        Let us find out what actually happened so that it never happens again.

        Standards in Zambia have fallen badly since Kamanga took over.

        I hope this is not the end of Sikazwe’s career as a referee in global football.

      • What I really find strange is when people who are not even doctors are disputing what CAF is saying. Do you understand what is heat stroke and dehydration?
        Do you have the official data of the temperature and humidity that prevailed in the stadium on that particular day? I don’t think any of you who are passing negative comments understands how humidity affects a person.
        Do you even know how air circulates within the stadium and the effects on the players and match officials?
        If it was not hot, why were water breaks being allowed?
        We wish him a quick recovery. We also pray for the wife and children.

  2. Get well soon Janny. Dehydration can lead to reduced mental awareness and poor judgment. The phenomenon may be complicated if one is suffering from an underlying illness like malaria, or covid-19. Both penalty awards and the sending-off were correct decisions though.

  3. Some Zambians,always wanting to fault find. The man was unwell period, yet you say ‘Strange’. And you want to place Kamanga in the whole thing, shame?

  4. Are Referees more prone to Heat Stroke than players and spectators? Who else had heat stroke during the match? Unless we are missing something, this is a very lame excuse and bad attempt at damage control!
    If he was not feeling well, he knows at that level of his career what to do.
    This is how a few individuals dent the name of the country and reduce chances of more Zambian Referees to advance to that level!
    We should not sugar coat wrongs. The Tunisians were as hurt as we were when Diramba did the same!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here