THE ban of Ghana from participating in next year’s Africa U-17 final in Niger by the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) could be likened to a wake-up call of some sort.
The reason for the ban is of course the supposed use of over-aged players by Ghana’s U-17 team the Black Starlets which the GFA has appealed against.
The ban, if enforced virtually indicts Ghana football at the junior level.
It immediately raises a lot of questions of the Starlets’ campaigns in 1991 – Motherwell, Scotland,’93-Japan; 95 – Ecuador and ’97 in Egypt.
Did we use overaged players in those competitions when the Magnetic Resonance Imagery (MRI) was not in vogue?
Of course very few will, among the successive management committees, have the courage to answer in the affirmative.
That notwithstanding, the ban if upheld by CAF, would indict Ghana football from the U-17 to U-23 both male and female.
Even if the GFA’s wins its appeal, the issue of MRI testing would still remain a contentious since it is still not full-proof.
The point is, would one test suffice for a player to be adjudged to have qualified for a particular age group?
Or do we need more than one test and within what duration should such tests be conducted?
Should a CAF observer, who should be a specialist of some sort in MRI or radiologist be present at such tests and at whose expense?
The bottom-line is MRI tests now will not be taken for granted by countries.
It means member countries of CAF must now agree on an acceptable formula that would determine the use of the MRI.
That aside, the comments of coach J. E. Sarpong about age-cheating is also an eye-opener and somehow indicts stakeholders of complicity to the practice.
Among his comments was, “the truth of the matter is that we don’t have a true 17-year-old in Ghana football so I’m not surprised by the recent development.”
Add this to the row between Medeamas Asiedu Attobrah and a lady on a local sports website over comments the latter was supposed to have made about his age vis-à-vis his participation in one of the junior national teams and you will appreciate the magnitude of the implication of CAF’s ban of Ghana.
Perhaps as a measure to forestall such an embarrassment again, the GFA should consider reconstituting the management committees of all the junior national football teams to start off on a clean slate.
That notwithstanding, CAF’s ban of Ghana over age-cheating is a dent too deep for Ghana’s football image.
TO THE POINT
with Christian Abbew