Major football games tend to produce moments of magic, but there is also potential for chaos, as witnessed in the game between Tunisia and Mali at the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021.
There were incredible scenes during Mali’s 1-0 win over Tunisia at the AFCON as the referee twice blew for full-time before the end of the match – thereby cutting short any hopes of Tunisia mounting a comeback.
The match official Janny Sikazwe from Zimbabwe, signalled the end of the match and a 1-0 win for 10-man Mali in the coastal town of Limbe with the clock showing 89 minutes and 47 seconds.
The Tunisians furiously protested that there were several minutes of stoppage time still to play.
With confusion reigning, Mali coach Mohamed Magassouba was midway through his press conference when tournament officials came in to informed that the game would start again.
Mali returned to the field but the Tunisians did not re-emerge, and so the referee brought the game to a definitive conclusion when the Malians kicked off again.
Tunisia coach, Mondher Kebaier, whose team had an extra man at the end after Mali’s El Bilal Toure was sent off said: “It is a difficult situation to deal with. The referee also blew with five minutes left in the first half and then he blew after 89 minutes, denying us practically seven or eight minutes of added time.
“His decision is inexplicable. I can’t understand how he made his decision and we will see what happens now.”
However, the Tunisian team’s refusal to return to the pitch could expose them to further sanctions from the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
“He blew for full time and asked us to go to the dressing room, so the players were in their ice baths and then he asked us to come back out.
“In 30 years in this business, I have never seen anything like it,” Kebaier added.
The astonishing scenes overshadowed what should have been a proud day for Mali, who won the Group F game thanks to Ibrahima Kone’s penalty just after half-time.
Tunisia had the chance to equalise but Wahbi Khazri’s spot-kick at the other end was saved with the game in the final quarter of an hour.
Mali coach, Mohamed Magassouba, said: “These are administrative questions. We were told to go back on the pitch because the game was not finished,” said Magassouba.
“Unfortunately the opposition team did not want to come back out and the final whistle was blown.”
The day’s other Group F match, between Mauritania and Gambia at the same venue, was delayed by 45 minutes from its scheduled 1600 GMT start due to the earlier confusion.
Osimhen netted for as Nigeria routs Sao Tome 10-0
Victor Osimhen scored four goals as Nigeria routs Sao Tome and Principe 10-0 in African Nation’s Cup qualifying
The Super Eagles missed out on a place at the 2022 World Cup in Africa’s play-offs in March but have made a perfect start in Group A as they seek a spot at next year’s Nations Cup in Ivory Coast.
The victory away from home is the biggest win the Super Eagles have recorded, surpassing a 10-1 triumph over Benin in 1959.
Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis and Ademola Lookman, who spent last season on loan at Leicester City, were also on the score sheet for Jose Peseiro’s Nigeria.
Osimhen, 23, now has 15 goals in 22 international caps, with the Napoli striker becoming only the second Nigerian to score four goals in an international, with Rashidi Yekini the first to do so in a 7-1 Nations Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso in 1991.
Sao Tome and Principe are ranked 183 in the world by Fifa and had to come through a preliminary qualifying tie against Mauritius to reach the group stage.
The islanders were then thrown out of qualifying for fielding an ineligible player – but Sao Tome were subsequently reinstated just nine days before Group A got under way following a successful appeal.
Nigeria join holders Senegal, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mali and Morocco with two wins from their first two qualifiers, with the next two rounds of matches scheduled for September.
Afcon qualifier: Nigeria came from behind to best Sierra Leone 2-1
Nigeria came from a goal down to defeat Sierra Leone 2-1 in their opening 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, on Thursday at the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja.
Alex Iwobi and Victor Osimhen struck in the wake of Jonathan Morsay’s early opener for the Leone Stars, sending the hosts level at the top of Group A with Guinea-Bissau who won their match against Sao Tome & Principe.
A choppy playing surface offered challenges for both teams, though Sierra Leone seemed to adapt more quickly, as attacker Mohamed Buya Turay fired a first shot in the third minute, but was tipped over the crossbar by Nigerian goalkeeper Francis Uzoho.
The Super Eagles then had a couple of chances through Victor Osimhen, and it seemed they would soon seize control of the match, but they were stunned when the Leone Stars claimed the lead in the 11th minute.
Musa Kamara sent in a cross from the left flank to pick out the run of Jonathan Morsay, who threw himself at the ball and scored with a diving header to put the visitors 1-0 up.
It was almost 2-0 just a few minutes later, as Sierra Leone cut through Nigeria’s defence on a counter attack and Musa Kamara struck a low shot which was tipped onto the post by Uzoho.
Nigeria then went straight up the other end and equalised to make it 1-1 on 16 minutes: Moses Simon played a well-weighted pass to put Alex Iwobi into space on the edge of the box and the Everton man opened up his body and whipped a shot into the bottom corner of the net.
The teams went on to trade half-chances before Nigeria claimed the lead for the first time in the 41st minute: Ola Aina’s cross from the right picked out Simon, who registered a second assist with a downward header across the six-yard box which was buried by Osimhen to make it 2-1.
The Super Eagles may have enjoyed the lead at half time, but the start of the second stanza saw them opt for a tactical change, as forward Sadiq Umar made way for central midfielder Peter Etebo.
The home side blew a great chance to add to their advantage when Samuel Chukwueze shot wide from a glaring opportunity in the 54th minute, and shortly thereafter Sierra Leone almost levelled the game when substitute Amadou Bakayoko beat Uzoho to a ball into the box, but sent the ball wide of the target.
Nigeria had half chances to kill off the game in the final quarter, but of more note were injuries suffered by captain William Troost-Ekong (groin) and striker Osimhen (hamstring), who were replaced by Kenneth Omeruo and Terem Moffi in the dying minutes.
The teams will return to Group A action on Monday 13 June, with Nigeria away to Sao Tome & Principe, while Sierra Leone will host Guinea-Bissau.
Real Madrid crowned champions of Europe
Liverpool were denied a seventh European crown as Real Madrid became the chapions of the continent once again thanks to Vinicius Junior’s strike in a Champions League final marred by chaos outside the Stade de France.
Paris stepped in as host after UEFA stripped St Petersburg of the showpiece following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but it did not provide a fitting host as European royalty went toe-to-toe in the biggest club match of the season.
Kick-off had to be delayed by 36 minutes due to substantial security issues outside the Stade de France, where Liverpool where edged out 1-0 in a tense, engaging final settled by Real star Vinicius Jr.
Jurgen Klopp’s Reds were unable to find a response to the second-half strike as Carlo Ancelotti, managing a record fifth Champions League final just a year after leaving Everton, oversaw the Spanish giants’ 14th European Cup triumph.
It was a heartbreaking end to a memorable season for Liverpool, who won the Carabao Cup and FA Cup before being pipped to the Premier League title by a point and losing in the French capital.
Liverpool had settled quickest in Paris, where Thibaut Courtois denied Mohamed Salah – a man in search of revenge following his injury in the 2018 defeat to Real – before tipping a Sadio Mane strike onto the post
Karim Benzema, this season’s Champions League top scorer, saw a goal ruled out for offside just before half-time and the LaLiga champions caught Liverpool napping in the 59th minute, landing a match-winning blow.
Vinicius Jr snuck behind Trent Alexander-Arnold to turn home Federico Valverde’s low cross and Courtois produced one of the best performances of his life to keep Liverpool at bay.
Salah led the charge for an equaliser that never arrived on a night that will be remembered by many for the farce outside the Stade de France, which led Liverpool to request a formal investigation midway through the final.
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