SANDRA AIGNER / AIPS* in DUBAI: Nigeria coach Manu Garba has rejected accusations that some of his players at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 are over the age limit.
Manu Garba was responding to comments by his Iranan opposite number Ali Doustimehr after the African team’s decisive 4-1 victory in their second round tie in Al-Ain on Tuesday.
Nigeria play Uruguay in Saturday’s quarter-final in Sharjah. They and Brazil – who face Mexico on Friday in Dubai – are the only teams to have won all four of their matches so far.
Doustimehr said: “I have been in this job for 30 years. My experience tells me that the players of Nigeria were not teenagers.”
However Garba said: “I feel it is just something that is borne out of frustration at losing to a tactically and technically better side.
“Last year the Confederation of African Football sent a circular that all players of the U-17 Team should undergo an MRI [magnetic resolution imaging] test to determine that they are U-17. All our players here passed. Even a month before the World Cup they had to undergo another MRI test to be sure.”
Immediately before competition FIFA conducted tests on four players chosen at random from each squad.
Yacine Zerguini, the FIFA medical officer, said none of the players checked had failed the test.
Asked whether FIFA should test all players, he said: “If you consider that we have doping controls as well, to do that would risk turning this into a medical event rather than a football tournament.”
* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA
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