Zambia take lead on age-cheating

Zambia are taking the lead to avoid age-cheating at the 2016 COSAFA Under-17 Championships that will be staged in Mauritius later this month.

The regional championship for junior national teams serves as preparation for the African Under-17 Championship qualifiers that start just a week after the final in Mauritius.

And Zambia coach Oswald Mutapa says he is taking precautions to make sure all his players are the required age for the COSAFA tournament that runs from July 22-31.

All Zambian squad members will undergo Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) that has become standard in assessing the age of players in this age-group with a 99% accuracy.

Every bone in the arm and leg has an end plate from which bones grow. When the growth is completed (usually around the age of 17), then this end plate disappears on the MRI scans.

If it can be seen on the MRI scans, then it is proof that the player is 17 or younger.

“This is where it all starts from, so to avoid problems and confusion over the players’ ages in the future, it is best that we take this matter seriously and we are doing MRI on the boys we have here in camp,” Mutapa told the Times of Zambia.

“Everyone is fine, once we conduct MRI on the players, we will be all in order because we shall know exactly which players to move with and how to handle training,” he added.

Zambia have been drawn in Group B at the COSAFA Under-17 Championships and will play in the tournament opener against guest nation Kenya. Malawi and Madagascar are the two other teams in their pool.