Burkina Faso’s Jonathan Pitroipa was cleared to play in the African Cup of Nations Final after the Confederation of African Football on Friday overturned a decision by a now-suspended referee to send him off in the semifinals for diving. Africa’s ruling football body agreed with a protest by the Burkina Faso team and the recommendation of its own refereeing committee that Tunisian referee Slim Jdidi’s second yellow card for Pitroipa for simulation in the final minutes of extra time in the semifinal against Ghana was wrong. Pitroipa could now play at Soccer City on Sunday, CAF said, where match officials will face extra scrutiny in the last, decisive game of the tournament. Mali coach Patrice Carteron said Friday that there had been a lot of “big mistakes” by referees at this African Cup. CAF rescinded the second yellow and therefore the red card shown to Pitroipa by Jdidi, giving the France-based forward the chance to represent his country in its first big final. But the move by CAF’s disciplinary committee only came after the Tunisian official conceded he had made a mistake to send Pitroipa off near the end of extra time in Nelspruit on Wednesday. Without Jdidi’s admission that he got it wrong in what CAF referred to as an “additional report” after the match, the ruling body wouldn’t have been able to act and Pitroipa would have been forced to miss the game. “The disciplinary board decided to validate the recommendation of the CAF refereeing committee and to cancel the second yellow card given to player No. 11 of Burkina Faso,” CAF said in its statement Friday night. “Consequently, player No.11 Jonathan Pitroipa of Burkina Faso is eligible for the final.” Jdidi had already been suspended for his performance but CAF didn’t specify for how long for in its statement. CAF’s decision highlighted probably the worst of a few poor refereeing performances at Africa’s top tournament. Jdidi denied Burkina Faso two good appeals for penalties at Mbombela Stadium, the second when he sent off Pitroipa for diving when he was actually fouled. He also disallowed a goal for the Burkinabes and awarded Ghana a soft penalty. His performance was fiercely criticized by Burkina Faso’s Belgian coach, Paul Put, while other coaches and CAF itself said some of the refereeing at the tournament was sub-standard. Put said Jdidi’s second yellow card to Pitroipa was “ridiculous.” CAF secretary general Hicham El Amrani said the continental body was “not happy about the level of refereeing” from Jdidi. South African referee Daniel Bennett was also criticised after Togo played Tunisia in the group stage and also conceded to a mistake against Burkina Faso in a game in the early stages, when he showed a yellow card to the wrong player. Egypt’s Ghead Grisha awarded Zambia a late and highly disputed penalty against Nigeria in what Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama called “the worst penalty award I have ever seen in my entire football career.” Other Nigerian players also joined in the criticism of Grisha, who hasn’t officiated another game in South Africa. Also Friday, Mali’s Carteron said poor refereeing could be the difference between winning the title and being eliminated at the African Cup, and pointed to Ivory Coast referee Noumandiez Doue’s decision not to send Ghana goalkeeper Fatawau Dauda off for a professional foul early on in their group game. Ghana went on to win 1-0. “There have been a lot of big mistakes at this tournament,” Carteron told the South African Press Association in Port Elizabeth. “In the 10th minute against Ghana their goalkeeper made an incredible mistake and normally should have had a red card and didn’t. It’s hard because maybe we could have finished first in this competition.” CAF said the decision to overturn Pitroipa’s red card and automatic suspension was valid according to its rules governing referee decisions, which allows it to rectify “obvious errors in disciplinary decisions based on referees’ reports.” Pitroipa’s presence will be a boost to Burkina Faso in its attempt to win a first African title with the team’s leading scorer at the tournament, Alain Traore, absent for the final because of injury.