Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Nigeria U-17 players fail age tests ahead of the World Cup

Nigeria's Golden Eaglets

FIFA’s under-17 World Cup coming up in October is already drawing up some controversies, well, mainly for the Nigerian team.  Some key players in the team recently failed FIFA's age tests. The Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) which was used to scan the wrist of some of the Nigerian U-17 team in order to find their true age showed some of the players to be over the age limit. Only players between the grade 1 and 5 of the scan are eligible to participate in the tournament.

Coach of the Nigerian team, Manu Garba is quite hopeful that he will find qualified players to make up for the loss despite the fact that the competition is right around the corner, he also insisted that results from the age test did not come as a shock as some of the players actually become older since the last test.

“We are working in conjunction with the NFF to ensure that only eligible players will represent the country at the World Cup”
He also stated-"We are not oblivious of the challenges posed by the MRI since we started this campaign because the players are growing," -said Garba.
"But imagine a scenario whereby a player who was on Grade 4 in April has grown to grade 6 in July but what can we do than to call on other players from our reservoir.
"We are working in conjunction with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to esnure that only eligible players will represent the country at the World Cup and we are on the right course.

FIFA introduced MRI scans to check the ages of players at the 2009 Under-17 World Cup, which took place in Nigeria.Fans and media alike have always questioned the ages of some of the players in the team.

Former African footballer of the year and Nigeria under-17 assistant coach Emmanuel Amuneke was quick to dismiss age-cheat allegations and remains optimistic about the prospect of the team despite obvious challenges.

"We know that this journey was going to be full of challenges when we started," Amuneke explained.
"But we have been transparent enough as regards the twin issue of player selection and the MRI test and it is important for the public to be well educated on this matter.
"The truth is that these players have not remained the same since we picked them almost two years ago because they have been training and eating well and their growth is expected, but we shall overcome the setback."

 The Golden Eaglets of Nigeria finished as runners-up at the 2013 African Under-17 Championship in Morocco, underwent MRI scans in Abuja to help determine their ages ahead of the upcoming World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
Nigeria has won the FIFA Under-17 World Cup three times - 1985, 1993 and 2007.

The official draw for the tournament is coming up in August 26, and will take place in UAE.