Malawi Under-17 national football team’s preparations have been thrown off balance after 12 out of the 30 players that underwent Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) tests to verify their ages failed the exercise ahead of Cosafa Youth Championship Malawi will host from October 11 to 20.
Cosafa rules and regulations stipulate that all players participating in the age bracket competition must undergo the scientific test.
Coach DeKlerk Msakakuona picked 30 players from which he is expected to select 20 for the final squad.
The first group of players underwent the age test at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (Qech) in Blantyre on Wednesday.
Out of the 16, eight were verified as being under-17s while the other half failed.
The remaining 14 underwent the MRI test yesterday and four failed again.
The Junior Flames technical panel has seven days to find replacements for the over-aged players.
But Football Association of Malawi (FAM) competition and communications director Gomezgani Zakazaka yesterday downplayed the development, saying they already have a ‘plan B’.
“All is not lost. We have the resutls seven days before the tournament. The replacements will have enough time to gel,” he said.
When asked why they delayed to conduct the MRI test, Zakazaka said they had no money for the exercise.
“This exercise is not a cheap one. MRI tests are expensive. We needed K8 million for the 30 players.
“Unfortunately, we did not have such funds at the start of the team’s camp but we had to start our preparations,” he said.
Msakakuona could not be reached yesterday but his deputy Temwa Msuku and team manager Enos Chatama said they would decide on the way forward once the secretariat briefs them on the results.
“We are yet to get official communication from the authorities on the outcome of the tests. It is only after we get such details that we would decide on what to do next on our preparations,” Chatama said.
But soccer analyst George Kaudza Masina yesterday said it could have been better had FAM initiated the tests at the start of the camp training.
“As it stands, there is an urgent need to beef up the squad with new players and it is unfortunate that FAM has delayed in conducting these tests thus inconveniencing everyone,” he said.
“This is a very unfortunate situation coming at a wrong time. This just vindicates people’s outcry that there has been a lot of age cheating on our youth teams and the biggest culprits have been the coaches, who are always after results and not football development. No wonder most of our football players’ ages keep on decreasing every year.”
Cosafa deputy chief executive officers Suzgo Nyirenda yesterday said MRI tests are necessary as they are the only way to ensure that the right age group plays for the tournaments. “We expect all paricpating teams to submit copies of the MRI scan results before the tournament kicks off,” he said.