Botswana referee Joshua Bondo took charge of his first assignment at the 2019 Africa Cup Of Nations (AFCON) tournament last week Friday as he officiated the Group E game between Mali and Tunisia. The entertaining game ended 1-1, Mali took control of the game with a goal from Diade Samassékou fas he scored directly from a corner kick as Tunisia’s goalkeeper, Mouez Hassen, failed to hold on to the in-swinging corner in the 60th minute.
In response, Tunisia started creating chances with a lot more urgency and they were awarded a free kick by Bondo a few metres away from the box. Tunisia’s Wahbi Khazri leveled matters through a deflected free kick that deceived Mali’s goalkeeper Djigui Diarra who was wrong sided by the deflection.
Bondo flashed six yellow cards during the game with each team having three players cautioned. The game was largely incident free and Bondo even got a warm handshake from Mali’s goal scorer Samassékou after the game.
Although a handshake from players is a routine occurence, this one seemed congratulatory given that Mali could have felt hard done by after letting their lead slide and not winning the game. Bondo’s next appointment was in the Namibia and Ivory Coast game yesterday (Monday) whereby he was deployed as the fourth official.
Given his performance in the first game, he could be in line to officiate more games in the knockout stage of the competition. So far, Bondo is the only Motswana referee to have officiated at AFCON level, the 2019 competition is his second consecutive deployment as a referee in that level.