5 august 2016 – Nigeria is in a state of shock after it is discovered that 26 members of the U17 football squad have failed an age test. This has occurred just before the squad ready themselves to play in the African Cup of Nations qualifier.
MRI tests were used to discern the age of the squad, and of all the players tested, only two were confirmed to in fact be aged 17 or under. A Nigerian official close to the matter expressed his disdain by saying, “This is a disaster. Virtually the first team the coaches have been working on have been disqualified. It’s a serious problem.”
The players who failed the tests have now departed from the training camp in Abuja, where they were staying ahead of Saturday’s Cup of Nations U17 qualifying match against Niger. We must not forget that Nigeria has won the U17 World Cup for the last 5 years.
Cheating in Nigerian football has however been acknowledged in the past. In 2010 former Nigerian FA president Anthony Kojo Williams told the BBC: “We use over-age players for junior championships, I know that. Why not say it? It’s the truth. We always cheat. It’s a fact. When you cheat, you deprive the young stars that are supposed to play in these competitions their rights.”
It is nonetheless a sad day for Nigerian football 🙁