- 9 out 25 fail MRI age test
Nine out of 25 Under-17 national football team players that underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at College of Medicine to verify their ages have failed the test.
The players; Hastings Banda, Stanley Billiat, Felix Nenakude, Petro Charles, Dan Machipisa, Chimwemwe Yasin, Moses Chipanda, Patrick Chizuze and Patrick Njolomole, have since been booted out of camp.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) now faces a race against time to identify replacements before the team leaves for the Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Youth Championship in Mauritius on Monday.
FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda confirmed the development yesterday and attributed the presence of the over-aged players to lack of proper age screening methods.
“We need to emphasize the need for players to have valid birth certificates. That is the first step in age verification. Unfortunately, not many, including you and me, can produce a birth certificate.
“In the absence of the birth certificates, players can falsify their ages and the only way to catch them is through the MRI scan. It’s expensive, but it’s better that we should discover the age cheats here than to be disqualified at the tournament,” he said.
FAM paid K250 000 for each player—about K6.2 million in total for the tests
Coach DeKlerk Msakakuona has five days to find replacements.
The coach, however, said they have a buffer of players that were on waiting list.
The replacements will also undergo the test.
Cosafa deputy chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda said they introduced the mandatory test in to curb the malpractice.
He said: “It is expected as per Article Three of the Cosafa under-17 regulations that all players to participate in the 2017 tournament must be born on or after January 1 2001.
“No documentary evidence other than a passport, player’s birth certificate and MRI test certificate shall be accepted for verification of the player’s qualification for participation in the competition.”
Nyirenda said they have requested results of the MRI scan from all participating teams.
“The results of the MRI together with the passports of the players shall be uploaded in CAF competitions management system [CMS] by latest seven days prior to the start of the competition. Copies of the players’ birth certificates should be presented at the team arrival meetings in the host country,” he said.
The deputy Cosafa boss, who also served as FAM GS for over five years, said the regional football governing body is keen to root out age cheating.
“It is important that we should work with all national associations to curb age cheating. Cosafa will leave no stone unturned as this exercise will even be extended to under-20 competition which will be played in Mozambique from December 1 to 10,” he said.
Last year, Zambia was disqualified for featuring over-aged players, a development that enabled Malawi to qualify for the semi-finals and eventually win bronze. n