The potentially ingenious reason why Tunisia refused to play final minutes vs Mali 4 months ago

The potentially ingenious reason why Tunisia refused to play final minutes vs Mali

If this works, Tunisia have played a blinder

It appears that there is a very good reason why Tunisia refused to return to the pitch to play the remaining few minutes against Mali as chaos erupted in the Africa Cup of Nations.

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Tunisia's AFCON Group F match against Mali on Tuesday was marred by controversy after the referee blew the whistle 15 seconds early, despite two penalties, two cooling breaks, VAR decisions and injury stoppages all occurring in normal time.

However, the referee - Janny Sikazwe - called an end to the fixture prematurely, which, understandably, infuriated Mondher Kebaier's side.

Mali were leading the match 1-0 after Ibrahima Koné scored from the penalty spot before Tunisia were denied from 12 yards in the second half with former Sunderland man Wahbi Khazri's spot-kick being saved by Ibrahim Mounkoro.

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Mali substitute El Bilal Touré was also sent off in the second period but the referee opted to ignore the advice of VAR to overturn the decision.

As well as blowing the whistle in the 89th minute, the referee also blew for full-time in the 85th minute - before realising he had made a mistake.

While the Mali players celebrated with joy, the Tunisians swarmed the officials in Limbe as they demanded an answer as to why the referee had blown the whistle early.

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After CAF officials stormed Mali's post-match press conference, it appeared as though the game was set to be resumed. This was quickly followed by Mali's players returning to the pitch in order to play the remaining few minutes.

However, in incredibly dramatic fashion, the Tunisia players opted to remain in the changing room - which resulted in Mohamed Magassouba's men being awarded the victory.

While there could be some confusion around why the Eagles of Carthage refused to complete the fixture, considering the fact that they had - albeit a small one - opportunity to grab an equaliser, it appears as though there is a very good reason why.

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According to SharjahSportsTV, Tunisia noted a rule that allows for a potential rematch if 90 minutes aren't completed.

For example, FA rules state that an abandoned match is replayed unless the competition rules or organisers determine otherwise.

Although it is currently unclear whether or not Mali have officially been awarded the victory, Tunisia will believe that they have a strong case to get the game replayed.

Should they have returned to the pitch, it would have allowed the match to be completed - whereas now, it technically has not been finished. One thing that is for sure, however, is that this saga is far from over.

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