Cosafa has warned member associations not to toy around with the idea of including overaged players in the Under-20 Championship set to kick off tomorrow in South Africa.
Council of Southern Africa Football Association (Cosafa) deputy secretary general Suzgo Nyirenda, a Malawian, yesterday said although age tests will not be conducted unlike in the just-ended Under-17 event, they have other means of tracking down over-aged players.
Said Nyirenda: “Age tests will not be carried out, but we warn teams not to take advantage of the situation as we have come up with other ways of detecting players’ real ages.
“We have trust in the teams that they will not bring overaged players at this event.
“At present, it is only possible to trace players’ age at Under-17 level through the MRI [process that lets doctors to look for bone fusions in the wrist, which are highly unlikely to occur before the age of 17]. But we have other ways.”
The warning comes after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Youth Competitions Committee conducted its own magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests at the Cosafa Under-17 Championship which led to the disqualification of Botswana, Comoros Islands, e-Swatini (formerly Swaziland) and Zimbabwe for fielding overaged players.
Junior Flames coach Patrick Mabedi yesterday said they have no reason to worry as he believes his charges are within the required age-bracket.
He said: “Most of the players in our squad underwent age tests when they were at the Under-17 level and they qualify for the imminent Under-20 contest. Their data is still there and the organisers will just check the birth certificates and the passports if they match.”
But football analyst Kimu Kamau said although age tests may not be done, it was important for Malawi to be strict in selecting players within the required age bracket.
“The authorities should be in the forefront of stamping out age-cheating
“We should not be thinking about getting good results at the competition, but having a clear development structure for the good of our football,” he said.
Junior Flames are in Group B alongside Zambia, Namibia and Comoros and will begin their campaign against Comoros this Friday before taking on Namibia three days later. They will face Zambia in their final group match on December 19.
Just like the just-ended Under-17 tournament, this year’s Cosafa Under-20 Championship will be used as a regional qualifier for the 2021 Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
Meanwhile, Mabedi said he is confident that his final 20-player squad, which beat TNM Super League sides Ntopwa FC and Mighty Tigers in training matches, will be successful.
“We have been in camp for three weeks and the boys have been working hard and we are impressed with our preparations. So far, we believe that the boys that have made it into the final squad are ready to play. If they perform just as they have been doing during training, we are going to do well,” he said.
Following is the full squad: Goalkeepers: Hastings Banda and Emmance Nyirenda; Defenders: Believe June, Innocent Nhlema, Blessings Mpokera, Wali (C), Joseph Balakasi, Andrew Sikola and Yamikani Mologeni; Midfielders: Tathedwa Willard, Zebron Kalima, David Daudi, Emmanuel Savieli, Aubrey Maloya, Stanley Biliati and Maxwell Paipi; Srikers: Chikondi Mbeta, Lanjesi Nkhoma, Zizwa Hanjahanja and Patrick Mwaungulu.