Cameroon Under-17 players are racing against the clock to form a team for regional African Cup of Nations qualifiers after additional players failed age tests imposed by Samuel Eto’o, president of the country’s football regulatory body, Fecafoot.
The Cameroon squad was decimated at their training camp in Mbankomo, on the outskirts of Yaounde, as a result of the former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker’s insistence on employing Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) screening for all players.
Twenty-one of the initial 30 participants failed the MRI tests. Cameroon, however, has suffered a major setback as 11 new players failed tests conducted on Tuesday, with coach Jean Pierre Fiala having to find replacements.
Cameroon will host Congo, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic for Central African Football Federations’ Union (UNIFFAC) qualifiers between January 12 and 24, with two teams qualifying for the Under-17 Nations Cup in Algeria in April 2023.
A Fecafoot statement said Eto’o offered tight directions for the procedures to be conducted in order to put an end to the tampering with civil status documents which have, in the past, soiled the image of Cameroon football.
Many of Africa’s international successes in junior events have been tainted by claims of using over-age players. FIFA, football’s world governing body, first used MRI scans at the 2009 Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria. The MRI works by scanning the wrist to determine how advanced the bone structure is.
Fecafoot barred 14 players from competing in the Under-17 Africa cup of nations in Gabon in 2017 after they failed the tests.
When Eto’o was elected Fecafoot president in December 2021, he promised to take action to fight the long-running problem, and this initiative has been praised by the public.
Cameroon has won the Under-17 continental championship twice, in 2003 and 2019.
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