Nigeria’s preparations for next month’s U17 AFCON qualifiers in Benin Republic have been thrown into total disarray after virtually the entire first team of the Golden Eaglets failed the mandatory MRI age test barely three weeks to the tournament.
SCORENigeria can specially report that coach Fatai Amoo will now have to start almost from the scratch to build a new team capable of representing the country at the WAFU B qualifiers, which kick off on January 5, after his first team were wiped out by the age test.
“From what I gathered, more than half of the 60 players who did the MRI test failed and they were mainly the players the coach was seriously banking on for the competition,” a top source told SCORENigeria
Some of the affected players included even those from the national U16 team, who featured at an invitational tournament in Japan last year.
They will now have to pack out of the team’s hotel in Abuja and head home completely devastated after their hopes were dashed.
This will not be the first time the Eaglets have suffered such setback as the country does not have a credible database of junior players just as the desperation for players, parents and agents to be involved as this level of the game has led to age-cheating.
SCORENigeria has already reported that officials have pegged Grade 4 as the highest benchmark for the age test to ensure registered players are not disqualified as that would now lead to the disqualification of the whole team.
Some of the country’s top stars like Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukwueze and Kelechi Iheanacho used the U17s as a springboard for lucrative transfers overseas.
Nigeria are drawn in Group B of the U17 qualifiers along with rivals Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
The two finalists of the tournament will advance to the U17 AFCON final tournament.