Nigeria will be hugely depleted for Saturday’s U17 AFCON qualifier at home against Niger after a staggering 26 players out of 60 failed the mandatory MRI screening conducted last week.
A top official revealed that what is disturbing is not only the high number of those who failed the age test, but the quality of those who will not be eligible as the Eaglets starting XI have been completely wiped out with only two surviving players.
“It is a disaster,” exclaimed one devastated official. The official added: “Virtually the first team the coaches have been working on have been disqualified. It’s a serious problem.
“We have exclusively gathered that top NFF officials have now gone into panic mode with blames being traded over this mass failure.”
Several of the players were in tears and total shock when the final results came through on Wednesday morning. The affected players have since quit the team’s training camp in Abuja for their various bases.
Among those who flung the age test was a star striker, who came through the national U15 team and has been outstanding in training leading up to Saturday’s AFCON qualifier.
Another promising player disqualified only recently forced his way into the starting XI of Coach Manu Garba’s team after a late call-up.
As first reported only by the AfricanFootball.com, the Confederation of African Football have moved swiftly to ensure a much more transparent management of this MRI test by deploying independent doctors to the various member-associations.
In the case of Nigeria, an Egyptian doctor supervised the screening exercise last week. Nigeria have won the FIFA U17 World Cup a record five times – 1985, 1993, 2007, 2013 and 2015.