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Wayne Lumbasi

Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe says he is lucky and happy to be back in Zambia following an ordeal at the 2022 Cameroon Africa Cup of Nations’ Group B encounter between Tunisia and Mali.

Sikazwe said he is grateful to God for saving his life after experiencing a strange encounter on that particular day. 

The referee ended Tunisia’s game against Mali 13 seconds before the 90 minutes was up. He had previously blown the full time whistle five minutes earlier, before checking the timing and restarting the game.

The referee claims he could have died of stroke.

“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,” he said.

Adding, “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.”

Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe /Courtesy/

The 42-year-old also explained how the weather conditions in Cameroon affected him on that day. 

“The weather was so hot, and the humidity was about 85%, 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 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,” he said.

“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’. “

The referee noted that 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.”

The Group F match on Wednesday January 12 concluded in controversy as coaching staffers from Tunisia, who were trailing 1-0 and playing against 10 men, ran into the pitch to confront Sikazwe and his assistants after the early finish.

However Sikazwe stood by his decision and needed security staff to escort him off the pitch.

Janny Sikazwe had previously taken charge of the 2017 Nations Cup final and two group matches at the 2018 World cup. He has vowed to continue refereeing.

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