AFCON officials ‘barge into press conference’ and demand restart after referee controversy

Usain Bolt discusses footballers off the pitch

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Officials at the Africa Cup of Nations reportedly stormed Mali coach Mohamed Magassouba’s press conference to inform him the match with Tunisia would be restarted, 20 minutes after the final whistle. The Group F opener was marred in controversy after Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe blew the final whistle early on two occasions, once in the 85th minute and once in the 89th minute.

There was no extra-time awarded by the officials, leaving the Tunisian bench furious.

The coaching staff and bench of the ‘Aigles de Carthage’ stormed the pitch in protest, totally outraged by what they had just witnessed.

Yet they were initially forced to accept defeat in their Group F opener as the players left the field. Most also conducted their media duties.

However, according to African journalist Maher Mezahi, who is on the ground in Cameroon covering the tournament, CAF chiefs ruled the match must be restarted.

He tweeted: “Mali coach Mohamed Magassouba’s press conference has just been interrupted. CAF officials barged in and are saying that the match will be re-started to play out the final three minutes. The coach is beside himself.”.

There was then some confusion as to what would happen next as talks resumed between all parties by the side of the pitch.

A small number of Mali supporters had remained inside the stadium and continued to blow vuvuzelas as they waited for an outcome.

The rest of the stadium had already emptied with most fans of the opinion that the match was over.

Intriguingly, supporters of Mauritania and Gambia had now arrived inside the ground ready for the second match of the afternoon.

Mali were adamant they did not want to carry on playing but did reluctantly kit back up before emerging from the tunnel.

The leaders, who had scored the only goal of the game through Ibrahima Kone’s penalty, began to pass the ball around as they waited for Tunisia to emerge.

Extraordinarily, a short time later there was confirmation Tunisia would not return to the pitch, with the result set to stand.

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