Referee Janny Sikazwe’s controversial past has re-emerged during Belgium’s World Cup opener against Canada on Wednesday. Canada dominated the first half, despite entering the break 1-0 behind, but were left baffled when Sikazwe’s linesman stopped an attack for offside after Belgium captain Eden Hazard passed to an opposition player.
Hazard’s panicked 14th-minute pass fell at the feet of Tajon Buchanan, running back from an offside position, before another Canada star attempted to get a shot away. But the referee blew for offside to thwart the danger, despite Buchanan receiving the ball from Hazard.
Amid social media confusion, it has come to light that Sikazwe was the referee who bizarrely ended an Africa Cup of Nations match four minutes early in January. Mali’s 1-0 win over Tunisia was marred by the controversial ending after the Zambian official blew for full-time in the 96th minute.
Players and coaches quickly realised the error and furiously informed Sikazwe, who then signalled for the game to continue. But he ended the clash early for a second time, whistling at 89 minutes and 42 seconds, despite the game featuring VAR checks, two penalties and a red card.
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