Malawi Under-17 national football team will today face Angola in Cosafa Championship in Mauritius full of confidence after all players passed the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) age test.
Council for Southern Africa Football Association (Cosafa) released the results conducted by Uefa doctors yesterday, just before the regional youth championship kicked off.
However, it was not the same for some countries such as Namibia and Seychelles, who will play with fewer players after some members of their initial squads failed the age test.
Namibia leads the pack of age fraudsters with eight of their players failing to make it.
Seychelles also had three players barred from the competition after it was discovered that they were over 17 years-old.
But Mozambique and Zambia had a 100 percent pass rate just like Malawi.
The results from other countries—Angola, Zimbabwe, Mauritius and Lesotho—were not out as we went to press.
Cosafa deputy chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda said the over-aged players have been asked to leave and their teams will not be allowed to replace them.
“Age fraud is a serious misconduct. If a team has been discovered to have brought over-aged players, they will have to face the consequences. The over-aged players will be sent back home at the expense of their teams and they will not be replaced,” he said.
This means Namibia will have to play with one substitute following the results of the age test.
However, the tournament’s rules and regulations allow for a match to proceed with a minimum of seven players from each team, meaning if a team has less than seven players, they will automatically be disqualified from the competition.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) technical director John Kaputa, who screened the Malawi Under-17 players during the selection process, said they were relieved with the results.
“The results are a big boost for Malawi. Age cheating is a big problem not just in Malawi, but the whole Africa. We double checked the players’ ages in order to have only those within the eligible age group in the squad,” he said.
Meanwhile coach Deklerk Msakakuona said in an interview from Mauritius that the players are geared up for the opening match against Angola.
“We are ready for the game against Angola. We are doing our last training session this afternoon to do final touches,” he said.
Malawi and Angola are in Group C alongside Angola, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
Defending champions Zambia are in Group B with Mozambique, Lesotho and South Africa while Group A has hosts Mauritius, Botswana, Namibia and Seychelles.
Malawi’s second group match is against Zimbabwe on Monday before wrapping up the first round against Swaziland two days later.
Just like last year, three group winners will proceed to the semi-finals and they will be joined by one best loser.
The champions will then qualify for the Tanzania Under-17 Afcon.