Janny Sikazwe, the referee at the centre of the controversy at the end of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations match between Tunisia and Mali on Wednesday, was suffering from heat stroke and severe dehydration.
It has been revealed that Sikazwe was taken to hospital after the game.
Tunisia have appealed for their Group F opening fixture to be replayed, after Sikazwe blew the final whistle after just 85 minutes and then again 17 seconds before 90 minutes were up.
Mali eventually won the encounter 1-0.
AFCON’s head of referees, Essam Abdel-Fatah, has now come out to defend the performance of Sikazwe, claiming he was suffering from the effects of the 34-degree heat level and 65 percent 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.
“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,” Abdel-Fatah told MBC Egypt’s Al-Laib.
AFCON 2021: Real reason referee Janny Sikazwe stopped Tunisia vs Mali early