Organisers of the Cosafa Men’s Under-17 Championship have confirmed the disqualification of Botswana, Comoros Islands, Eswatini and Zimbabwe from the competition due to fielding overage players.
As a result, the tournament, which kicked off in Port Elizabeth on Thursday, will be restarted on Sunday.
The new fixtures have already been confirmed, featuring just four teams – hosts South Africa, Malawi, Angola and Zambia.
At stake for the two teams that will reach the final in the regional competition is a ticket to next year’s CAF Under-17 Afcon in Morocco.
The reason that the CAF Youth Competitions Committee disqualified the four teams on Friday?
“They all had at least one player fail their magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, which were conducted in the host country before the start of the competition,” the organisers said in a statement on Friday.
The age eligibility test is obligatory and is performed on all participating players on arrival in the host city.
“The test is performed by CAF medical services in accordance with the protocol of the [Fifa Medical Assessment and Research Centre] in a health facility duly accredited in the hosting country using an MRI apparatus.
“The cost of the MRI test is covered by CAF.”
MRI scans are used globally to determine whether players are eligible for Under-17 competitions in particular.
With this procedure, believed to be more than 99% accurate, the medical team also looks for bone fusions in the human wrist, which are highly unlikely to occur before the age of 17.
Zimbabwe were due to face South Africa in a Group A fixture on Saturday. Amajimbos beat Eswatini 2-0 in their opening match on Thursday.
South Africa will now face Malawi at Gelvandale Stadium on Sunday,
while Angola and Zambia will meet in an early kick-off.
The round-robin matches will continue on Tuesday and Thursday.
The final and third-place play-off are set for Sunday, November 29.