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AFCON Cameroon: What you don’t know about Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe

Janny Sikazwe is a Zambian football referee. Sikazwe was born on May 26, 1979 and has been a FIFA international referee since 2007.
Janny Sikazwe is a Zambian football referee. Photo/

An African Cup of Nations (AFCON) match between Mali and Tunisia thrust Janny Sikazwe into the limelight.

Sikazwe served yet another controversial moment in football history after blowing the final whistle on the 85th minute. This final moment elicited anger and bemusement.

This shattered Tunisia’s hope of a comeback in the match.

But who is Janny Sikazwe and what really happened? What happens next? Sportsleo tells it all.

Who is Janny Sikazwe?

Janny Sikazwe is a Zambian football referee.

Janny Sikazwe is a Zambian football referee. Photo/Premium Times Nigeria

Janny Sikazwe is a Zambian football referee. Sikazwe was born on May 26, 1979, and has been a FIFA international referee since 2007. He is one of the most senior referees from the African country, having worked for FIFA since 2007.

It is his vast expertise that has led to his being in command of numerous high-profile games in a variety of competitions, both at the club and international level.

Under his refereeing prowess, Sikazwe featured in high-profile matches. He officiated CAF Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, the Africa Cup of Nations, and the FIFA World Cup tournaments in the past.

Interestingly, he is a former teacher whose football passion was always his first love. Sikazwe made his debut as a referee in 2008 in the most intriguing ways.

He was sitting in for another referee who was ill during the CAF Under-20 Championship. Since then, his professional trajectory rose exponentially.

In addition to officiating at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, Sikazwe officiated the 2016 Club World Cup final between Real Madrid and Kashima Antlers.

In 2017, he officiated the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final between Cameroon and Egypt.

The whistle was in his hands for two World Cup 2018 group games. One between Belgium and Panama and the other between Japan and Poland.

He made history as the first Zambian referee to take command of a game at the World Cup in Russia.

What Do Football Stakeholders Say About Janny Sikazwe?

Despite his lack of international experience, Sikazwe is well regarded by his peers. And one of his former mentors even suggested that he could officiate a World Cup final.

Felix Tangawarima, a FIFA referee instructor told ESPN in 2018 that he has high hopes for Sikazwe. He says that the Zambian referee’s ability and extensive CAF experience would count in a World Cup final.

Why Did CAF Suspend Janny Sikazwe in 2018?

After suspicions of corruption surfaced during a CAF Champions League match between Esperance and Primiero Agosto in November 2018, he was provisionally suspended by CAF.

However, the suspension was overturned in January 2019 after he was found not guilty following a disciplinary process.

What Do Investigations Into Janny Sikazwe AFCON 2021 Have so Far?

When Sikazwe blew for full time twice too early during AFCON 2021 match, he found himself in the heart of a political firestorm.

On January 12, 2022, Sikazwe prematurely blew his whistle for full-time on two separate occasions during a game between Tunisia and Mali. This ended up as pandemonium.

He first blew for full-time at 85th minute – five minutes before the end of normal time.  He blew a second one just before 90 minutes, eliciting shock and outrage from the Tunisian side, which was down 1-0 and looking for an equalizer at the time.

African Football Confederation Defends Janny Sikazwe

Now, the African Football Confederation’s head of referees, Essam Abdel-Fatah, has justified Sikazwe’s performance. Fatah claims that he was suffered a ‘heat stroke’.

Janny Sikazwe

Janny Sikazwe is a Zambian football referee. Photo/SCMP

The temperatures in Limbe, Cameroon where AFCON is going down rose to 340C and 65 percent humidity. The confederation said Sikazwe was dehydrated which affected his concentration.

It resulted in him losing time in the 80th minute, and he eventually ended the contest in the 85th minute. The referee called him back after receiving instructions from the assistant staff, and he came back to finish the match in the 89th minute.

A crisis ensued and the objections and control of the event were lost. The fourth referee was supposed to conclude the match [instead of Sikazwe], but one of the two sides refused to allow him to do so.

There was widespread confusion, with the post-match press conference being interrupted by a CAF order to resume play, with the referee being replaced for the last three minutes.

While the Mali players returned to the field, Tunisia chose not to do so, and the outcome remains unchanged.

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