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AFCON referee breaks silence over controversial Tunisia-Mali mistakes

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Janny Sikazwe says he was close to going into a coma after the game. 

An Africa Cup of Nations match between Tunisia and Mali descended into chaos after Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe blew the final whistle early twice. 

The referee initially called off the game in the 85th minute but resumed it minutes later. Both sides returned to the pitch, only for Sikazwe to repeat his time-keeping mistake minutes later.

In a new interview, the Zambian referee has opened up on the controversial game.

He told BBC: “I have seen people going for duties outside the country and come back in a casket. I was very close to coming back like that,

“I was lucky I didn’t go into a coma. It would have been a very different story. The doctors told me my body was not cooling down. It would have been just a little time before [I would have gone] into a coma, and that would have been the end. I think God told me to end the match. He saved me.”

‘I couldn’t hear anybody’

He added: “The weather was so hot, and the humidity was about 85%,” Sikazwe recalls.

“After the warm-up, I felt the [conditions] were something else. We were trying to drink water but you could not feel the water quenching you – nothing.

“But we [match officials] believe we are soldiers and we go and fight. Everything I was putting on was hot. Even the communication equipment, I wanted to throw it away. It was so hot.

“I started getting confused, I could not hear anybody. I reached the point where I could start hearing some noise and I thought someone was communicating with me and people were telling me ‘no you ended the match’. It was a very strange situation.

“I was going through my head to find who told me to end the match. Maybe I was talking to myself, I don’t know. That is how bad the situation was.”

AFCON resumes on Wednesday when Senegal take on Burkina Faso in a semi-final clash.