Age cheating is hurting African football [Sport]

In the recent months age fraud has manifested itself in CAF’s junior tournaments. In August, three Kenyan players were disqualified from the CECAFA U17 tournament in Tanzania after they failed MRI t

Today’s Sport Segment on The Morning Call is about age cheating in sport, or what is commonly referred to as age fraud. And it is a rampant age-old problem in African football.



In the recent months age fraud has manifested itself in CAF’s junior tournaments. In August, three Kenyan players were disqualified from the CECAFA U17 tournament in Tanzania after they failed MRI tests.



Last week Benin’s U17 team was disqualified from the WAFU-B U17 after half of their players failed the test. Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire had one player each sent home.



The mandatory use of Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was introduced by FIFA in 2009 for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup to help ascertain whether players are over age or not. MRI is considered to be 99% accurate until the age of 17, after which it becomes harder for medical professionals to calculate a person’s age.



But what prompts age cheating?



In some cases it’s never really the fault of the player. Dr Yacine Zerguini is the vice president of the CAF Medical Committee, and also a member of the FIFA Medical Committee. He says that in the case of Under-17 age cheats:



“We know that it is not generally bad intention or purpose if players are biologically above 17 years. In some countries, birth certificates are inaccurate or even not available, without that being the fault of the player or the association.”



But things get different when federations are asked to do independent MRI scans for age tests, before CAF conducts its tests before a tournament and still, overage players get busted.



Several high-placed officials within the various associations and the ministries have acknowledged that they have at times deliberately created ‘football ages’, so that older players are still eligible for the U-20 and U-17 teams.



Football administrators believe age cheating took a leap after the commercialisation of the game in Africa. Clubs and footballers’ agents have been accused of encouraging players alter their age so that it becomes less hard to obtain contracts with European clubs looking out for young talents.



But age cheating is killing African football. Egyptian Football Association media officer Medhat Shalaby likens age fraud to a cancer in African football. He argues that age fraud is a counterproductive practice, to which he is right. Age cheating is destroying football development in Africa. It makes tournaments useless because some players must not be playing because they are too old. What is the point of a 17-year-old competing in a tournament where the opposing team has players way over that age group?



The more this practice continues, the more we gradually lose credence. Our football stars become subject to unfair scrutiny and taunts. This reputation disturbs the success of our players abroad.



It still is fresh to recall the age saga that broiled across Europe concerning African stars like Nwankwo Kanu, Obafemi Martins, Julius Aghahowa and not forgetting the scandal involving Samuel Eto’o and the then coach at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho who claimed that the Cameroonian is older than what he says he is.



Ultimately, Africa needs to start playing clean! Those are sentiments shared by Namibian women football team coach Jacqueline Shipanga. Our national football associations need not support such. Therefore it’s a general call to all the federations around the continent to fix their houses and make things better. Until then, this menace will live on and African teams will remain less productive and too mediocre to challenge other countries in the World Cup.



Mauritania secures historic Afcon qualification: who else is going to Cameroon?

The other teams that have qualified for Afcon 2019 include Uganda, Egypt, Tunisia, Senegal, Nigeria, Algeria, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Cameroon, Madagascar and Mali.

Mauritania secured a historic maiden qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) on Sunday, when they beat Botswana 2-1, to guarantee a top two finish in Group I.

The North-West African nation of at least 4 million inhabitants erupted with celebration as Moctar Sidi El Hacen and Ismail Diakite scored to clinch a sensational comeback, having conceded first courtesy of Keeagile Kobe’s strike for Botswana.

Mauritania joins Madagascar, who will also be making their tournament debut at Afcon in Cameroon next year.

READ MORE: Madagascar heads to AFCON 2019 after historic qualification

Also qualified

Madagascar and Mauritania are among 14 nations that have so far qualified for the tournament, that will feature 24 teams for the first time.

The hosts Cameroon secured automatic qualification.

The other teams that have qualified for Afcon 2019 include Uganda, Egypt, Tunisia, Senegal, Nigeria and Algeria.

Guinea, Ivory Coast, Morocco and Mali have also secured their qualification.

Results

  • South Sudan (2) vs Burundi (5)
  • Egypt (3) vs Tunisia (2)
  • Morocco (2) vs Cameroon (0)
  • South Africa (1) vs Nigeria (1)
  • Comoros (2) vs Malawi (1)
  • Uganda (1) vs Cape Verde (0)
  • Gabon (0) vs Mali (1)
  • Namibia (0) vs Guinea-Bissau (0)
  • Equatorial Guinea (0) vs Senegal (1)
  • Gambia (3) vs Benin (1)
  • Seychelles (1) vs Libya (8)
  • Madagascar (1) vs Sudan (3)
  • Congo (1) vs DR Congo (1)
  • Mozambique (1) vs Zambia (0)
  • Eswatini (1) vs Niger (2)
  • Rwanda (2) vs Central African Republic (2)
  • Ethiopia (0) vs Ghana (2)
  • Togo (1) vs Algeria (4)
  • Angola (2) vs Burkina Faso (1)
  • Liberia (1) vs Zimbabwe (0)
  • Lesotho (1) vs Tanzania (0)
  • Mauritania (2) vs Botswana (1)
  • Guinea (1) vs Ivory Coast (1)

Uganda defeat Cape Verde to qualify for AFCON 2019

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) football club striker Patrick Kaddu’s brilliant header with 13 minutes left on the clock broke the hitherto modest Cape Verde resistance

Uganda sealed its place in the prestigious Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals due in Cameroon next year with a 1-0 win over Cape Verde in Kampala on Saturday.

This will be Uganda’s seventh appearance in Africa’s biggest footballing tournament since 1962.

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) football club striker Patrick Kaddu’s brilliant header with 13 minutes left on the clock broke the hitherto modest Cape Verde resistance. The Cranes only needed a draw to qualify.

The result confirmed Uganda Cranes on 13 points and the first country to book their slot in group L. On Sunday, second placed Taifa stars of Tanzania play Lesotho in Maseru. A win would move them to eight (8) points and a chance at qualification. Lesotho sit at the bottom of group L with two (2) points. Cape Verde have four (4) points after five (5) matches.

Uganda has not conceded a goal in the campaign.

Mali, Morocco and Nigeria also qualified for AFCON 2019 on Saturday.

AFCON 2019 qualifying weekend: Salah's Egypt, Burundi and Morocco win

Madagascar, Senegal and hosts Cameroon have also qualified for the 2019 Cup of Nations, the first to feature 24 teams, and another 15 countries could secure places this weekend.

Burundi, Egypt and Morocco won their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier matches on Friday, extending their chances of qualifying for the continent’s biggest football tournament.

Cameroon, who will be hosting the 2019 AFCON were also in action, but lost (0-2) to Morocco.

Salah inspires Egypt win

Liverpool forward, Mohamed Salah scored his fourth goal of the qualification campaign, to give his nation a win in the final minute of the game against Tunisia.

While both teams have already qualified for the 2019 AFCON, Egypt’s win at the 86,000-seat Borg el Arab stadium in Alexandria, ended Tunisia’s 100 precent record. The North Africans had beaten Egypt at home, eSwatini away and Niger twice.

Victory brought Egypt level with Tunisia in Group J on 12 points, but the losers retained first place on head-to-head records.

Burundi win

Meanwhile, Burundi climbed above Mali and Gabon to top Group C with a 5-2 win over South Sudan in Juba, where Fiston Abdul Razak scored four goals for the visitors.

Burundi have nine points, Mali eight, Gabon seven and South Sudan none with the second and third-place teams meeting in Libreville Saturday.

The top two finishers qualify and a Malian victory over Gabon would assure them of a place at the June 15-July 13 tournament in Cameroon.

SUGGESTED READING: Nigerians react to $25,000 offer for goals against South Africa

Saturday fixtures

  • South Africa vs Nigeria
  • Comoros vs Malawi
  • Uganda vs Cape Verde
  • Gabon vs Mali
  • Namibia vs Guinea-Bissau
  • Equatorial Guinea vs Senegal
  • Gambia vs Benin
  • Seychelles vs Libya

Madagascar, Senegal and hosts Cameroon have also qualified for the 2019 Cup of Nations, the first to feature 24 teams, and another 15 countries could secure places this weekend.

AFCON 2019: CAF confirms Cameroon as hosts

Somalia's first boxing tournament in 40 years held

Somalia’s capital Mogadishu has suffered years of explosions killing several and regularly claimed by armed group, al-Shabab.

This is the first time in 40 years that Somalia is holding a boxing tournament.

Years of insecurity and uncertainty meant the sport was relegated to the background.

“The reasons we are organizing this boxing tournament after 40 years may include the fact that the country’s situation is better, whether in terms of security or politics, we think there is a real change’‘, said Awil Gelle Ahmed, Second Vice President of the Somali Boxing Federation.

For locals, the contest is a sign of good things to come. They are hopeful that more young people will take part in the sport.

“I love boxing so much and my coach made me fall in love with this sport to be a well-known boxer”, said Somalian boxer, Kashmir Abdirahim Abdalla.

“Today, I am very happy with this tournament, something we have been missing for many years, and we hope the tournament will produce more boxers’‘, said Mohamed Ahmed Abdullahi a spectator.

Recently, Somalian born Ramla Ali represented her native Somalia in the International Boxing Association Women’s Boxing World Championships, becoming the first boxer to do so.

Many years ago, Ali’s family fled Mogadishu after her brother died due to a grenade explosion outside their house.

The family sought asylum in England after a first stop to Kenya on a rickety cramp boat, according to firstpost.com.

Somalia’s capital Mogadishu has suffered years of explosions killing several and regularly claimed by armed group, al-Shabab.

Djokovic stuns Zverev at ATP finals

He will advance into the last four of the season-ending tournament for the eighth time if John Isner beats Marin Cilic in the evening session

World number one Novak Djokovic produced a rock-solid performance to dismantle the challenge of German firebrand Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals on Wednesday (November 14).

The Serb, 10 years older than his opponent, was made to work hard in an absorbing first set but Zverev’s challenge crumbled at the O2 Arena as Djokovic won 6-4 6-1 to move within sight of the semi-finals.

Five-times champion Djokovic, who will end the year as world number one for the fifth time in his career after a storming second half of the season, leads the Gustavo Kuerten group with two wins and is yet to drop a set.

He will advance into the last four of the season-ending tournament for the eighth time if John Isner beats Marin Cilic in the evening session.

All seven round-robin matches played so far this week have been won in straight sets, but for a while it appeared as though the crowd would be given full value for their ticket.

The 21-year-old Zverev, who has a Tour-leading 55 match wins this year, went toe-to-toe with Djokovic from the baseline and looked to have the firepower to worry his opponent.

Djokovic netted a routine forehand when serving at 4-4 30-30, offering Zverev a break point that he did not convert.

Djokovic then double-faulted to give Zverev another chance to serve for the set but this time the German went just wide with an attempted lob after the Serb ventured into the net.

The net game always looked dangerous for Zverev and so it proved as he double-faulted to concede the set.

Zverev looked deflated and despite holding serve for 1-1 he offered no more resistance as Djokovic won five games in a row to seal his 33rd win in his last 35 matches.

His final group match is against Cilic while Zverev will hope to bounce back against Isner.

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