Nigeria, Kenya in age cheat dispute

The flamingoes in one of their matches

While players and officials of Nigeria’s national U-17 women’s team, the Flamingoes, are still celebrating their 2-0 victory over their Kenyan counterparts in the first round, first leg, World Cup qualifiers, played in Nairobi on saturday, Kenyan officials allege that at least five players in the Nigerian team are well over aged and does not fall into the age bracket of 17. 

Suspected cheats

The players  the Kenyan officials claimed to be over-age included Alde Victoria, Sarah Nnodim, Patience Okaeme, Alimba Chioma, Joy Bokin, Amos Iheaoma and Oluchi Ofeabu. 

According to them, the Nigerian girls were heavily built, prompting doubts on whether they were within the acceptable age of 17 years.

The officials promised to lodge a protest to CAF as stipulated in the rules. 

Reports in the Kenyan media revealed that the Kenya/Nigeria match was delayed for several minutes before kick-off owing to the Kenyan delegation insisting several players in the Nigerian squad were overage. 

Incidentally it was a similar scenario last time out for Nigeria en route qualification for the 2010 edition of the Women’s U-17 World Cup as South Africa also made similar allegations but were unable to prove their case either before CAF or FIFA.

Earlier warning

In order not to find itself in a messy situation like this, the NFF had issued a stern warning to the U-17 handlers over zero-tolerance of over age players.

Chairman of NFF’s sub-technical committee, Chris Green, had said any one caught would face the music.

“The NFF wants to make this clear now that there exists zero tolerance for age-cheating.

“We no longer have any patience for players who come to the national team falsifying their age to be able to play age-grade competition and fail to fulfill their potential thereafter.

“I am telling you to come clean and tell us your true ages.

“We will investigate all those players who eventually passed this screening exercise to determine their actual ages.

“Anyone found to have deceived the federation, even if she passed the test would be sent packing

“We are not joking over this as NFF would not tolerate cheating” Green had warned..

Daunting task

Despite the allegation, Saturday’s loss now leaves Kenya with a huge task of erasing a two-goal deficit in the return leg tie set for Abuja in a fortnight.

The winner of their match will meet the victors of the Namibia and Botswana tie. 

Kenya’s coach, Fred Serenge, praised his players for putting up a good show despite the loss. He promised to give Nigeria a run for their money in the return leg tie in a fortnight.

“Though we have lost, I have confidence in my players. They played to their ability. I still have hope in them,” he said.

 

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