Ghana has been banned from next year’s Under-17 Championship in Niger for fielding an ineligible player in a qualifying game against Cameroon.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF)upheld a protest by Cameroon against Ghana after its Medical Committee made adverse findings on the eligibility of one of seven Black Starlets players they protested against when the two countries met in the final round of qualifiers to the 2015 African U-17 Championship last month.
CAF over the weekend communicated its findings to the Ghana Football Association informing the country’s football governing body of suspending the Ghana U-17 team for the next two years thereby disqualifying the Black Starlets team from participating in next year’s African Junior Championship in Niger, Footy-Ghana understands.
The Black Starlets edged past their Cameroonian counterparts 6-3 over two legs but the games were played under protest right before kick-off of the opening leg at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaoundé on Saturday, September 13, 2014.
Cameroon raised alarm and filed protests against the ages of seven of Ghana’s players accusing them of being ‘visibly older than 17 years’. The players identified; Benjamin Aseidu, Moses Nyarko, Felix Quaye, Henry Medarious, Issah Abbas, Isaac Twum and Jonah Osabutey had their photographs taken before kick-off – the game which Ghana eventually won by a 2-1 score line.
Officials of the Ghana team also made a counter protest by expressing reservations about the ages of four Cameroonian players.
Of the protest against 7 Black Starlets, the CAF U-17 Organising Committee narrowed its investigations down to two players to have an MRI retest of their ages done in Ghana. A CAF Medical Committee member travelled to Ghana to witness the F-Marc procedure for age determination used to verify their eligibility at a Medical Centre in Accra on October 1.
Subsequently, CAF’s communique and decision to the Ghana FA claims contradictions in the MRI report conducted on one of the two suspected players by the Ghana FA and that of the analysis of two of its medical experts.
Per Article 33 clause 11 of the regulations governing the African Youth Championship and the CAF Organising Committee for the 2015 Championship meant for players born on or after January 1, 1998, Ghana’s disqualification paves way for Cameroon to compete in the tournament slated for February 15- March 1, 2015.
Also, as found in Article 37, paragraph 2 of the same regulations, Weekend Sun understands that a ban for age fraud has a trickling down effect as it would extend to all national team age categories. Hence, Ghana football is faced with a two-year suspension from all age group competitions.
It states: “For any administrative error in the matter of the players’ registration or date of birth without deliberate intention, the concerned association shall be suspended for two years from all the age category competitions of CAF.”
This means the Black Satellites [U-20] who have already qualified for the 2015 African U-20 Championship in Senegal together with the Black Meteors [U-23] who are scheduled to partake in the qualifiers to the 2015 All Africa Games will be affected.
Dissatisfied GFA appeals CAF decision
The Ghana FA has confirmed receiving a letter from CAF on October 25 disqualifying the national U-17 team from participating in the 2015 Niger Championship after ‘upholding the opinion of its Medical Committee on the eligibility of one of the players’ following the protest filed by Cameroon.
“CAF wrote to the GFA on Saturday claiming the analysis of the MRI report from a Medical Centre in Ghana contradicts the analysis of two CAF medical experts on the eligibility of one of the players,” the GFA said.
“However, the Radiologist Consultant who carried out both the initial MRI tests and rescanning confirmed that the said player was within the age limit.
“The Ghana Football Association is dissatisfied with the decision of the CAF U-17 Organising Committee and has accordingly filed an appeal with the CAF Appeals Committee,” the GFA added.
Player in Question
Information gathered by Weekend Sun indicates that Isaac Twum is a February 14, 1998 born per his official documents and participated in the last edition of the African Junior Championship in Morocco two years ago.
He was scouted while playing in the Schools and Colleges competition for Koforidua Technical Institute (KOTECH) and was eligible for the 2013 Championship after the mandatory wrist MRI scan results placed him on Grade 1 of the CAF classifications. With age on his side, Twum now 16 years had his name registered as part of Ghana’s squad for the Niger 2015 qualifiers and his MRI scan placed him at Grade 2 as at March 2014 when Ghana submitted its list to CAF.
Signals picked by this newspaper indicates that the retest results showed a slight discrepancy with that of the initial test [done in March]but Twum was still within the age limit to make him eligible to feature for Ghana – he has after seven months from the initial test moved from Grade 2 to 3 of the ratings.
It must be noted CAF has a 6-grading system which is used to determine the eligibility of players to the CAF U-17 category. Players who fall within Grades 1-5 are classified as being 18 years and below while those on Grade 6 are to be 19 years and above and automatically not qualified to play in the African Youth Championship.
by Nii Lexis Koufie-Amartey