By MICHAEL MIYOBA
While some Senegalese, Ghanaians, Nigerians, Moroccans and Tunisians are in Qatar to cheer their teams representing Africa at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Zambians will follow from their TV rooms as local elite FIFA referee Janny Sikazwe bill today begin his officiating duties at his second consecutive World Cup finals.
Sikazwe, who officiated at the 2018 Russia World Cup has been assigned as centre referee for the Group F match between Belgium and Canada.
It will be the second time Sikazwe will be officiating a match involving Belgium having officiated the Belgium versus Panama fixture at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Sikazwe will seek to redeem his reputation at the global stage after he twice blew too early for full-time in Mali’s 1-0 win over Tunisia at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco.
Sikazwe caused controversy as he first attempted to end the game in the 85th minute, before again whistling before the 90-minute mark.
The game finished after the second mistake, with around 17 seconds of normal time still on the clock, sparking outrage from Tunisia’s players and coaching staff, who were attempting to overturn a 1-0 deficit.
Meanwhile, Zambians watched in astonishment as former Zambia national soccer team coach Herve Renard’s Saudi Arabia produced one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history to beat Argentina 2-1 in their Group C opener.
Goals by Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari stunned the favourites as Renard’s boys started the World Cup on an exciting note.
The 51st-ranked Saudis were trailing to Lionel Messi’s 10th minute penalty, but Al-Shehri squeezed in an angled shot in the 48th minute after punishing poor Argentine defending.
Saudi Arabia’s fans were then sent into delirium five minutes later as Al-Dawsari curled a stunning shot into the top corner from the edge of the 18-yard area.
Despite having dominated play in the second half, the 2014 World Cup runners up failed to catch up to record their first defeat in a Group consisting of Mexico and Poland.