By Beng Emmanuel
The Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) has insisted that no player from the Under-17 men’s national football team has been released from the squad due to age fraud.
Twenty five (25) players are currently in camp in the nation’s capital Yaounde ahead of the Under-17 African Cup of Nations slated for next month in Morocco. They team trains daily at the annex number one of the Ahmadou Ahidjou Stadium with the technical staff led by Anicet Mbarga Foe.
Reports indicate that some players withdrawn from the team “are not eligible for the Under-17 competition because they are of fusion five and six, though fusion five is accepted by FIFA for the Under-17 category”.
According to FECAFOOT, there has been no external control on the players to determine their ages, a statement from the body stated.
Also, the country’s regulatory football body admitted that they have resorted to conducting regular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test on players retained for the training ahead prior to the continental youth tournament in March.
“The Cameroon Football Federation has noticed with regret that there are media reports that some players of the Under-17 national selection have been thrown out of camp due to age fraud” a note from the football body read.
“Of the players who underwent the test, 25 were declared eligible even with the Federation’s decision to drop the eligibility mark to fusion 4 instead of FIFA required standard of fusion 5 for precautionary reason”
“The decision was motivated by the fact that the MRI test does not prove that a player a player is 17 or over. It has a range of ages 16-18 for stage 6 and relies on the interpretation of the person carrying the test”.
Cameroon has once been a victim of age fraud scandal and allegation. In 2019, during the Under-17 African Cup of Nations, Cameroon Concord news reported that Morocco soccer administrative body accused Cameroon of using players who are way under-17. The central African nation was accused of using a number of players who were 25 years old during the tournament.
Out of the six players disqualified for age cheating during the competition, three of them were Cameroonians. Despite the inconveniences baby Lions went on to win the tournament and eventually qualified for the Under-17 World Cup in Brazil.
On Friday, the Confederation of African Football CAF confirmed that defending champions Cameroon and Congo Republic, both finalists of the previous UNIFFAC qualifiers in 2018 will represent the Central Zone at the Under-17 Afcon.
Among other reasons given for the decision, was the absence of a host nations and the global health crisis.
The Under-17 African Cup of Nations will take place in Morocco from March 13 to 31, 2021. It will be the first edition to feature the expanded twelve team format.