Retired veteran Kalulushi FIFA referee Cornelius Mwanza has backed under-fire referee Janny Sikazwe, who has been heavily criticised for making some questionable decisions in the Africa Cup match involving Mali and Tunisia.
Sikazwe prematurely twice blew his whistle for full-time before the 90th minute besides flashing a controversial red card and awarding two penalties in the match.
Mwanza said the mistakes Sikazwe made as Mali beat Tunisia 1-0 were normal in refereeing.
He questioned why other match officials did not correct Sikazwe as he ended the match early.
“Those mistakes are normal in refereeing situations that is why there are four match officials, two assistants and the fourth official,” Mwanza said.
“These guys could have helped the referee by advising him that we still have some minutes to play before the end of the match. The other match officials contributed to what happened.”
Among the tournaments Sikazwe has refereed at are the CAF Champions League, the FIFA Club World Cup, the Africa Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup.
“It’s normal in any given situation you can make such mistakes, stop watches and sometimes malfunctions. With new technology, the match officials have communication devices which the fourth official could have used to talk to Janny Sikazwe that there are more minutes remaining,” Mwanza said.
Mwanza is shocked that some Zambians have taken a lead in criticising Sikazwe.
“Criticism will always be there but the worst is that as Zambians we are even in the forefront criticizing Janny forgetting about the good he has done for mother Zambia.
We are not at the Africa Cup; we are being represented by Janny so we have to console him so that he forges ahead. That is not the end of his career, he has got potential he can still do better than what happened yesterday,” he said.
Sikazwe has been a FIFA international referee since 2007.
“The simplest thing Janny could do right now is to accept the mistake he made and forge ahead. That is not the end of his career; those are mistakes which each and every referee can make,” he said.
Football administrator Ricky Chisenga Mamfunda said Sikazwe should be rebuked over his mistakes at the Africa Cup.
“Honest rebuke is better than dishonest praise. Standing with someone in difficult times should not blind us from the clear and obvious mistakes that were committed. Genuine love is not short of honest rebuke,” Mamfunda said.