Banjul, Gambia, May 9, GNA - Two coaches at the on-going Sixth Africa Under-17, Tournament, in The Gambia, have raised doubts over the ages of some players, describing the situation as very worrying and a bane of African soccer.
The tournament is just three days old yet; coaches Webonga Piouhiri of Burkina Faso and Madinda Ndlovu of Zimbabwe are alleging that some of the players are over-aged.
Coach Piouhiri, in an interview with the GNA Sports said, it was high time Africans did the right thing by presenting the correct ages of their players at every stage and not indulge in any falsification just to achieve results.
He said juvenile competitions were meant to build solid foundations for the future and not necessarily to win trophies.
Coach Piouhiri was however, evasive when asked by the GNA Sports to mention names or countries where the alleged over-aged might be coming from; but said it was up to the appropriate authorities to identify them and take the needed steps to rectify the situation.
Tanzania were barred from participating in the competition after using an over-aged player in their qualifying match against Zambia. The confederation of African Football (CAF) said the player's age on his club licence for the 2004 season was 21 years, but had 16 on his licence in the 2005 season. Their place was taken by Zimbabwe. Coach Piouhiri said the inability of an African country to win the World Cup despite doing very well at the junior level, could be attributed to the alleged cheating problem.
He noted that, juvenile competitions must be reserved for players with the required ages for the development of the game on the continent. Coach Ndlovu was however, quoted in a Gambia Sports paper "The Gamsports" on Sunday expressing the same worry in an interview. "Age cheating is today rampant among most African countries to their own detriment", the paper quoted.
He said there was the need to de-emphasize the win at all cost attitude at this level of football, which inspire age cheating. The Zimbabweans lost their first game 2-0 to Cote d' Ivoire on Sunday.
The coach said, "We have succeeded in achieving our major objective, which is to eliminate the falsifications from Zimbabwean football". Coach Ndlovu said it would definitely set up a good foundation for the future of Zimbabwean football.