An African Cup of Nations game between Mali and Algeria descended into chaos today, after the referee twice blew the full-time whistle, before the regulation 90 minutes had passed.
Mali, who have never lost the opening game of an AFCON campaign, took the lead through the penalty spot by Ibrahima Koné just after half-tme, before a penalty awarded by a busy Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe saw Wahbi Khazri's spot-kick saved by Ibrahim Mounkoro with a quarter-hour to go.
But what followed in the final five (or four) minutes will leave Sikazwe with some serious explaining to do.
With 85 minutes on the TV clock, the referee blew the full-time whistle, sparking anger among both sets of players, after a half that saw two cooling breaks, VAR decisions and injury stoppages, as well as the two aforementioned penalties.
Having realised the error of his ways, the Zambian restarted the game, and within two minutes was making another major decision - sending Stade Reims player and Mali sub El Bilal Touré off in an extremely harsh decision - adding what should have been further stoppage time onto the clock.
And then, with 89 minutes on the clock...
The referee blows the whistle before the 90 minutes are up...
VAR checks, two penalties and a red card... no stoppage time?!
It ends Tunisia 0-1 Mali 👀 pic.twitter.com/tPoiw7ZNGX
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) January 12, 2022
...the full time whistle was blown again, with the entire Tunisian bench - led by manager Mondher Kebaier, swarming around the officials in Limbe wanting to know why he had blown early again.
The game ended up with Sikazwe escorted off the pitch in the Western Cameroonian city, and questions surrounding the circumstances that saw him so eager to call a conclusion to proceedings.
The Zambian did invite Tunisia to come back out and play the final few minutes, but when they refused he officially blew the full-time whistle for the third and final time to confirm the result.
Now it looks like Tunisia refused to come out and play the final three minutes
Sikazwe and Mali waited for them and blew the whistle calling off the match
Now it's officially full time pic.twitter.com/oviP8C9bzX
— Maher Mezahi (@MezahiMaher) January 12, 2022
The 2004 AFCON winners now sit bottom of Group F, with the other group game between Gambia and Mauritania yet to kick-off.