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Age Scandal: NFF recalls Eaglets from Bauchi camp

By Fidelis Ebu
ABUJA–Not comfortable with the result of the magnetic resounding imaging scan carried out on the players of the Golden Eaglets after an initial denial of no such thing, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Thursday cut short the team’s two-week camp in Bauchi.

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The players and the technical crew were directed to return to Abuja Monday just after one week of the two weeks they were scheduled to train in Bauchi, and their parents were summoned to answer questions regarding the dates of birth of the players.

A dependable source close to the Executive Committee of the NFF hinted last night that the decision to summon the players’ parents was to ascertain the exact date of birth of the players.

Reports have it that the result of 22 of the 35 players sent to the National Hospital for the MRI screening indicated that they are above the Under-17 required for the FIFA cadet championship, which holds between October 24 and November 15 in the country.

Just as the NFF Chief Media Officer, Ademola Olajire was denying that none of the players failed the MRI test, arguing that the football house was yet to receive the result it paid for, Dr Emmanuel Ikpeme though declined to disclose the exact number of players that failed the test conducted at the National Hospital, Abuja, he revealed in a chat afterwards that some players were not successful in the test.

Dr Ikpeme, who is the NFF deputy general secretary (Technical) stated that it was a good development that the result of the test was received before the team was sent to participate in the Council of East and Central Africa Football Association tournament holding in three cities of Sudan – Khartoum, Juba and Medani.

“The NFF could have spent huge sum of money in sponsoring the team which a good number of the players would eventually not be part of the Fifa Under-17 World Cup that we are hosting later in the year.

“We will want a situation where about 18 to 20 per cent of the players that would represent the country in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup will progress to the next level. Presently we have some players that participated in the Under-17 championship in Korea that are in the current Under-20 team. Such progression is what the NFF is working toward achieving, and we should be commended for embarking on the test exercise to ensuring that rightful players in the under-17 are featured in the category”, Dr Ikpeme said.

Remarkably, John Obuh, the newly appointed coach of the Golden Eaglets; the third to handle the team since it was assembled, is however confused over the MRI result that has thrown spanner into his works even though he inherited the alleged over -age players from his predecessor – Henry Nwosu.

The CECAFA tournament however kicked off last Thursday without Eaglets. The Egyptian team was the second guest team at the tournament.

Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi, a member of the NFF Executive Committee and chairman of the Technical Committee stated last night that the withdrawal of the Eaglets from the CECAFA tournament was to avoid international embarrassment.


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