By MICHAEL MIYOBA
PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema has hailed Fifa referee Diana Chikotesha for flying the Zambian flag high at the 2023 TotalEnegies Africa Cup of Nations which was eventually scooped by hosts Ivory Coast who defeated Nigeria 2-1 in Sunday’s final at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan.
Chikotesha was appointed second assistant referee for the final which was officiated by Dahane Beida of Mauritania who was the centre referee.
Jerson Emiliano Dos Santos of Angola was the first assistant referee while the fourth official was Morocco’s Bouchra Karboubi.
“We salute Zambian referee Diana Chikotesha for being the first woman assistant referee to officiate a men’s AFCON final. Zambia is back in the Champions League,” Hichilema said.
Chikotesha was a key member of the CAF referees officiating panel at the AFCON where she had been on VAR duties and on the pitch as assistant referee.
Commenting on her AFCON experience, the 35-year-old Fifa referee said in a post posted on her socials; “My God, thank you. Girl-child, the only thing that you can achieve without effort is failure.”
Before the AFCON final, Chikotesha officiated the match involving Senegal and Cameroon in Group C and Mali versus Burkina Faso in the last 16.
She also officiated the match between Burkina Faso and Mauritania in Group D, Egypt versus Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Round of 16, Guinea versus Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Quarterfinals, and Nigeria versus South Africa in the semis as a VAR official.
In just two years, Chikotesha has officiated at events such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the CAF Women’s Champions League, and the Women’s AfCON.