Zim Thrown Out Of COSAFA Under-17 Champs Over Age Cheating

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By Sports Reporter

ZIMBABWEAN football sunk to a new low Friday after the country’s Under-17 men’s football team was among the four teams disqualified from the 2020 COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship underway in South Africa due to age cheating allegations.

The regional body confirmed Zimbabwe’s disqualification together with that of Botswana, Comoros Islands, and Eswatini over fielding over-age players before revealing that the tournament which initially kicked off Friday was set for a restart Sunday.

Zimbabwe who are under the tutelage of development coach Tafadzwa Mashiri had got their campaign in the regional tournament off to a promising start after holding Angola to a one-all draw Thursday.

The Young Warriors were scheduled to play South Africa Saturday in the other Group A game before rounding-up the first round against Eswatini.

However, they will not be able to continue after Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) tests conducted on the players before the start of the tournament exposed that at least one player in the squad had allegedly falsely presented their age.

Eswatini, Comoros, and Botswana were also found guilty and have been sent home.

The disqualification means the Young Warriors are also out of the 2021 Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations scheduled for Morocco.

The COSAFA tournament is being used as the qualifying campaign for the continental event.

In confirming the developments, COSAFA said: “The Confederation of African Football (CAF) Youth Competitions Committee made the decision to disqualify the teams from the zonal qualifier tournament for the 2021 Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations on Friday.

“The quartet all had at least one player fail their magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans that were conducted in the Host Country prior to the start of the competition.”

The Young Warriors’ disqualification means they will miss the next two Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations and by consequence the next FIFA Under-17 World Cup.

The 2020 COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship will restart as a four-team tournament on Sunday and will be played on a round-robin basis, with the top two teams advancing to a final on November 29.

Hosts South Africa open their campaign against Malawi (kick-off 15h30), while before that Angola and Zambia do battle at 12h30.

The matches which have been played to date will be regarded as warm-up games and will have no bearing on the new tournament format.

There are also fixtures Tuesday and Thursday before the final positions are decided next Sunday, including a third-fourth play-off.

The two sides that reach the final based on their position in the group will have already achieved one ambition by qualifying for the Cup of Nations that is scheduled for Morocco in the middle of next year.