Reports from Morocco, venue of the African U-17 Championship Saturday evening said that three players of the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria have failed the MRI test conducted by the Confederation of African Football, CAF on all the players playing in the competition.
MRI test, which can accurately determine the ages of players, conducted on Friday showed that two defenders and a striker were above the age limit for the competition. The affected players are Wilfred Onyinye Ndidi (Nath FC, Lagos), Ibrahim Abdullahi (Sardauna Academy, Kano) and Emmanuel Asadu (Amuneke Academy).
It was gathered that CAF has ordered that the three Nigerian players be excluded from participating at the Under 17 African Championship which kicked off Saturday. Their omission from the tournament has now reduced the Golden Eaglets players to 18 players.
Ademola Olajire, Assistant Director (Media) of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, told P.M.NEWS Sports Saturday evening on telephone that the news from the Eaglets’ camp in Morocco was true, adding that the earlier report was that no player was affected. He said the Media Officer of the team has been directed to issue a statement on the unfortunate. He assured that the incident would not affect the morale of other players as they prepare to face Ghana in Sunday'ss first group match.
The Golden Eaglets, three time world champions, are also pitted in the same group with, Congo and Cote d’Ivoire. An earlier report was that all Nigerian players were cleared by the test. There were also reports of MRI test failure by three players each from Ivory Coast and Congo, out of the other seven participating countries.
CAF on Friday conducted a on all players to verify that they fall within the U-17 years age bracket before the start of the African Junior Championship. The bone density of wrists of the players was scanned to ensure an accuracy of at least within one percent under the age 18. This represented the margin of error for the tests so players don’t get unduly disqualified.
The practice was first introduced by the continental governing body at the 2011 tournament in Rwanda where eight Gambian players failed the inaugural test. Meanwhile, former Eaglets’ coach, Alphonsus Dike, has predicted victory for the Nigerians against their West African arch-rivals, the Black Starlets of Ghana.
The two nations will clash in the opening game of Group B in Marrakech, Morocco on Sunday. “I see the team going as far as the final as well as lifting the trophy. No side in the championship look as solid as the Nigerian side. It will be a huge shock if they miss the title celebration,” the Head Coach of Nasarawa United told.
The three-time world champions will line up next against Cote d’Ivoire on Wednesday before rounding off their Group B campaign against Congo on Saturday. The semifinalists of the cadet championship will qualify to represent Africa at the upcoming FIFA Under-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the months of October and November.