Cameroon have suffered a fresh setback after 11 new players failed age tests, bringing the total number to 32 after 21 had failed the first round.
WHAT HAPPENED? Fecafoot president Samuel Eto’o ordered the tests in an effort to curb age cheating in the country with the U17 team preparing for the UNIFACC tournament qualifiers, contested by Central African Football Federations’ Union countries, starting next week.
Of the initial 30-member squad that was submitted for tests, 21 failed, necessitating a second round, of which 11 were found to have falsified their age, leaving coach Jean Pierre Fiala with limited time to find replacements for the qualifiers that will take place between January 12 and 24.
Cameroon host Congo, Chad, DR Congo and Central African Republic but their squad has been ravaged after Eto’o insisted on using MRI screening at their training camp in Mbankomo, on the outskirts of Yaounde.
WHAT DID THEY SAY? According to the BBC, Eto’o gave “strict instructions” for the actions to be taken “in order to put an end to the tampering with civil status records” which have, in the past, tarnished the image of Cameroon football.
“Fecafoot urges all actors, in particular educators, to ensure that the ages by category are respected,” read part of Fecafoot’s statement.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: African teams have previously been accused of age cheating, especially in junior tournaments, and Eto’o vowed to weed out the vice in Cameroon when he assumed office in December 2021.
This is the second time in the last five years that Cameroon has been rocked by age cheating after Fecafoot blocked 14 players from taking part in the 2017 U17 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon after they failed the tests.
Fifa introduced MRI scans, which work by scanning the wrist to study how advanced the bone structure is, during the 2009 U17 World Cup in Nigeria.
WHAT’S NEXT? Cameroon faces a race against time to assemble a team for the qualifiers which are just seven days away.