Malawi Under-17 players currently in camp in preparation for Cosafa Youth Championship, which the country will host from October 11 to 20, are expected to undergo Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) test this Saturday to verify their ages.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Alfred Gunda said Cosafa rules and regulations stipulate that all players participating in the Under-17 Youth Championship must undergo the scientific age verification exercise.
The regional body’s deputy chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda also confirmed the development yesterday, saying they will require certified copies of MRI tests results for all players.
“We already wrote all participating teams regarding the MRI tests. All players are supposed to undergo the test,” he said.
Cosafa usually conducts its own MRI test for players when the Under-17 Youth Championship is used as a qualifier for CAF Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
“This time since the tournament is not a qualifier for the CAF Under-17 Afcon, the associations will do it themselves and bring the results to the tournament,” he said.
Though expensive, Nyirenda said the mandatory MRI test is necessary.
“We can’t do without it. It is good for the game as one way of curbing age-cheating. It is member associations’ practice
[of using over-aged players]
that created all this and we can’t avoid it,” he said.
In 2016, Zambia was disqualified from the Under-17 Youth Championship for using over-aged players.
FAM technical director John Kaputa said they had a rigorous exercise to verify the ages of 30 players who are in full time residential camp at Mpira Village in Blantyre.
“The MRI test will be the last age-verification exercise,” he said.
Meanwhile, under-17 national team coach Deklerk Msakakuona says his charges are responding positively to training as preparations for the 2019 Cosafa Youth Championship intensify.
“So far the response is good and we are working on combination,” he said. Malawi are in Group A alongside South Africa, Zambia and Eswatini.n