U17 AFCON: CAF disqualifies one African Nation for age fraud

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The South Sudan U-17 national football team has been disqualified from the ongoing 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) U17 tournament in Algeria after five of their players failed the MRI test conducted on the team

The South Sudan Football Association (SSFA) expressed its regret in a statement and acknowledged the decision made by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

SSFA Spokesperson Albino Kuek Deng revealed the MRI test was conducted on 26 April and was intended to confirm that all players met the age eligibility criteria established by the competition’s regulations.

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However, 48 hours after the test was conducted, the SSFA said they received a notification from CAF indicating that five players failed the MRI test and were deemed ineligible for participation in the competition.

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It said two of these players had previously passed the MRI eligibility test in Ethiopia during the zonal qualifiers in September 2022.

“We immediately wrote a complaint to CAF medical committee an official complaint against their decision attaching the MRI results we did in Juba, in accordance to Article 27.6 sub article (iii) of the U17 regulations. The complaint was rejected by the medical saying that their first and second readings remains the same.” a part of the statement issued by the SSFA read.

The SSFA said it understands and respects the disqualification decision made by the competition’s organisers.

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“We fully understand and respect the decision made by the competition’s organizers, and we apologize to our fans, sponsors, and partners for any disappointment this may cause.

“South Sudan Football Association would like to emphasize that we have always been committed to fair play and sportsmanship.

“We have taken all the necessary steps to ensure that all our players meet the eligibility criteria set by the competition’s regulations. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, some of our players were unable to participate in the competition.”

Meanwhile, the SSFA expressed gratitude for the ongoing support from fans, sponsors, and partners and stated its intention to participate in future competitions.

A press conference is being planned to provide further information about the team’s disqualification, it said.

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