AFCON referee, Janny Sikazwe, has claimed that he could have died of heatstroke after he prematurely blew the final whistle on two occasions, during Tunisia vs Mali clash.
The Zambian referee ended Tunisia’s game against Mali 13 seconds before the 90th minute after he suffered heatstroke and severe dehydration, before he was taken to hospital.
Speaking to Zambian media on his arrival back home, he recounted to reporters instances where some referees could not return home from duty outside their country.
“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.”
The match attracted outrage, but AFCON head of referees Essam Abdel-Fatah defended the performance of Sikazwe, who also officiated at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, saying he was suffering from the effects of the 34-degree heat level and 65 percent humidity in Limbe.
Sikazwe explained that the doctors who assessed him after the match said he was left with a little time from the moment he ended the match before he could go into a coma. “And that could have been the end,” he said.
Sikazwe said what happened to him on that day was unusual as he reached a point during the match where he could not hear the communication from other officials.
He said the situation got worse in the second half to a stage where he again started hearing strange voices. “In a normal scenario, it is allowed to tell the fourth official to continue a match in case you are unable to continue, but I could not do it because there was a stage where I could not hear anyone and even the communication device became too hot and I even wanted to throw it away,” he explained.
“This is how bad the situation was.” Sikazwe also said that he was shocked to hear from his colleague that he had prematurely ended the match as he was communicating with some people who told him to end the match.
“I do not know if I was talking to myself, but one thing I know is that Zambians are lucky to receive me like this today,” he said. Sikazwe said he has learnt from his mistake and will come out stronger. “What I now believe is that we failed. We did not succeed. But if you fail, what is important is to rise.
The day after the Tunisia-Mali game, Sikazwe went to the hospital for heart, blood, and physical tests – but all his results came back normal.