CAIRO: The reputation of African football over age cheating has stumbled across another setback after Gambia were banned from all continental competitions for two years.
Gambia, according to the African football confederation, had fielded five over-age players in a qualifier for Africa’s under-20 championship. One of them might be as old as 25.
Last year Nigeria’s victory in the World Under-20 Cup in the United Arab Emirates was questioned by several opposing coaches. The Nigerians had dropped a dozen of their own players before the competition after they failed standard MRI wrist scan tests.
The ban, confirmed by the CAF executive committee, means Gambia’s senior national team are barred from the 2015 African Cup of Nations in which they were due to play Seychelles this month in a first-round qualifier.
Gambian clubs will also be barred from CAF’s continental competitions for two years.
CAF found that all five players were born not later than 1994 and therefore ineligible to play in the under-20 qualifying game against Liberia on April 6. Gambia won the match 1-0 before the result was annulled and the tie awarded to Liberia. Only players born from 1995 onwards can play in the competition.
One of the players, forward Ali Sowe of Italian club Chievo, could be as old as 25, CAF said, after it discovered records from a 2012 club competition that showed his birthday on his passport as Oct. 14, 1988.
Gambia won the 2005 and 2009 African under-17 championships.