Janny Sikazwe, the referee at the centre of the Africa Cup of Nations controversy, was taken to hospital after suffering from heatstroke and dehydration during the game between Tunisia and Mali.
Tunisia have appealed for the their first match in Group F to be replayed after Sikazwe blew for full time in the 85th minute but then allowed the game to continue before he ended the match 17 seconds before the 90-minute mark.
There was plenty of extra time expected as the second half included two penalties, two incidents which required Sikazwe to check the pitch-side monitor, and five stoppages for substitutions.
A water break was also required as the game, which took place in the city of Limbe, Cameroon, was played in 34-degree heat and a humidity level of 65 per cent.
Mali were leading 1-0 through Ibrahima Kone’s goal and have been awarded the win after Tunisia refused to return to the pitch when they were called back out to complete the game.
But Essam Abdel-Fatah, who is the head of referees at AFCON, confirmed to Egyptian media that Sikazwe had suffered from heatstroke and ‘severe dehydration’ during the match and was subsequently taken to hospital in Limbe, Cameroon.
Abdel-Fatah told MBC Egypt’s Al-Laib as quoted by Sports Central: ‘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.
He added: ‘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.
Tunisia coach Mondher Kebaier was furious with Sikazwe and called his decision to end the game early ‘inexplicable’.
Kebaier said: ‘Very tough to manage non-sporting affairs. ‘At the 85th minute he blows final whistle. Again at 89th minute. There was supposed to be seven to eight minutes of additional time. His decision is inexplicable.’ ‘The players were taking ice baths for 35 minutes before they were called back out again. ‘I’ve been coaching for a long time never seen anything like it. Even the 4th referee was preparing to lift the board and then the whistle was blow.