By Kate Obodo
Chief coach of Rangers Football Club of Enugu, Christian Chukwu (MFR) has laudedÂ the decision to conduct an MRI scan on the Golden Eaglets to verify the true ages of players who will represent Nigeria at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
He said that it is a welcome development which would help curb the incessant cheating by players and coaches alike, who go all out to win at all cost.
The former Harambee Stars of Kenya coach said that the idea is superb and would save the country from an impending shame, adding that the use of over aged players in the junior teams is unnecessary as it would destroy players career when they are supposed to be ripe for the senior national team.
â€œI must confess, I commend the idea of the MRI scan. We donâ€™t need to field overage players in our junior competitions. We have genuine players forÂ the U-17 team. Nigeria has a rich pool of talented players, soÂ those of them who failed the test should be replaced.
Since we have capable players, why go for overaged players. IÂ think it is high time we embraced the truth as a virtue, if the menace of age cheating is to become a thing of the past.
How can a player be in an U-17 this year and the next year he is retired as a player?.It does not worth it if you ask me. Football should be a process and not the other way round. Take for example Lionel Messi of Argentina, he started as an U-17 player before he got to the present stage now. In Nigeria, some of the players who started with him have retired and that is because they were overaged â€ Chukwu said.
While reacting to the draws that pooled Nigeria in Group A with Argentina, Germany and Honduras, the former Green Eagles captain said there is no cause forÂ alarm, as he maintained that the Eaglets are capable and have the needed qualitites to qualify from the group. He however urged Nigerians to be patient with themÂ and give them maximum support throughout the competition.
â€œI believe in the team. The group in which they are wonâ€™t be a problem,â€ he advised.
Meanwhile Golden Eaglets coach John Obuh has expressed sadness over the timing of the MRI tests on his players so close to the world championship and has therefore told Nigerians not to expect too much from the his boys if the squad is decimated following the scan result.
Sixteen of Obuhâ€™s 35-man squad reportedly failed the bone marrow age test and are expected to be cut from team and the coach is clearly upset.
â€œIf they wanted to do this, it should have been carried out long before now, not when I am rounding up preparations for the competition. How am I now expected to screen new players in this short time and produce a good team?
â€œIf these boys are removed now, Nigerians should not expect us to do well at the World Cup because it will be very difficult to identify new players and build a strong team in the time we have.