Age cheating allegation follows Lesotho team to SA

2011-04-09 18:20

African Youth Championship (AYC) ­finalists Lesotho will ­arrive in South Africa for the tournament amid serious ­age cheating allegations.

The tournament kicks off on Sunday.

Media reports from the Mountain Kingdom allege that Makoanyane XI – as the team is called – is “entirely made up of players who are beyond the age limit of 20 years”.

Lesotho’s online publication, Weekend Post, carried an explosive report stating that some of the players in the team “could be as old as 24”.

Makoanyane XI are in the same group as Amajita, the South African Under-20 national team they initially bundled out in the first round of the qualifiers.

South Africa are in the finals by virtue of being the hosts, ­replacing strife-torn Libya.

Although the report did not name any of the players in the Johannesburg-bound team, it has lifted the lid on the alleged age cheating shenanigans that have bedevilled ­Lesotho’s youth football in the last decade.

However, Lesotho Football ­Association (Lefa) general ­secretary Mofihli Makoele has laughed off the allegations, saying the informant is a former committee member who is bitter that he did not make it ­into the current executive.

“I am aware of those reports but it is not true that our players are age cheats,” said ­Makoele this week.

“We got correspondence from Caf prior to the Under-17 championships warning countries that they would conduct age verification tests in the Under-17 championships. We are confident that our selection is of the right age. This (information) comes from a bitter executive who did not make it into the ­office,” said Makoele.

According to Makoele, the problem Lesotho faces is that people are only issued with passports when they need them.

However, a source close to the Lefa executive committee was quoted as saying: “It is an open secret that nearly all the players that are currently playing for the Under-20 team are well over the age of 20. Some could be as old as 24 or 25”.

The source provided the newspaper with proof from previous incidents and City Press has seen some of the fraudulent documents, such as the passport of one player whose date of birth was scratched off and a new date inserted above.

Other evidence – a baptismal certificate – states the birth year of another player as 1979 but Fifa’s data has captured it as 1980.

Caf introduced the magnetic resonance imaging test programme at the African ­Under-17 Championship in Rwanda in January, where all players underwent bone marrow tests to determine their age.

It is not clear if the same technology is going to be used in the AYC in South Africa. The tournament runs until May 1.

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