The referee who blew for full-time early in an Africa Cup of Nations match claims he could have died of heatstroke.
Zambian Janny Sikazwe ended Tunisia’s game against Mali 13 seconds before the 90 minutes were up, having previously blown for full-time five minutes early, before checking the timing and restarting the game.
“I have seen people going for duties outside the country and come back in a casket,” he said.
“I was very close to coming back like that.
“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.
The Group F match in Limbe on Wednesday, 12 January concluded in controversy as coaching staff from Tunisia, who were trailing 1-0 and playing against 10 men, ran onto the pitch to confront Sikazwe and his assistants about the early finish.
However, Sikazwe stood by his decision and needed security staff to escort him off the pitch.
Speaking to Zambian media on his arrival back in the country, Sikazwe said the impact of the weather in Limbe was the reason for his erratic performance in the second half.
“The weather was so hot, and the humidity was about 85 per cent,” he said.
“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 – nothing.
“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. It was so hot.”
The second half saw several stoppages including two video assistant referee (VAR) reviews, a drinks break and five windows for substitutions, and at least five minutes of injury time would have been expected to have been added on.
However, Sikazwe said he was not able to communicate with the rest of his officiating team.
“I started getting confused. I could not hear anybody,” he said.