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Thursday, 12 January 2023 – The Democratic Republic of Congo have pulled out of a regional qualifying tournament for the 2023 Under-17 African Cup of Nations after 25 out of 40 players failed mandatory age testing.
This comes after a similar scandal rocked Cameroon earlier this month, with a total of 32 players failing tests that had been ordered by Samuel Eto’o, the president of the country’s football association.
A statement from the Congolese football federation (FECOFA) said they were forced to withdraw after ‘only 15 were eligible and 25 failed of the 40 players submitted for MRI testing.’
However, of the 15 players who passed the age test, the statement also revealed that ‘only five managed to complete the necessary administrative formalities’ that would have allowed them to travel to Cameroon.
BBC Sport Africa reported that Cameroon found 30 replacement players in a race against time to take part in the qualifiers for the U17 AFCON.
Unlike those who failed, the 30 players have all passed Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) tests in Douala.
The tests are used to determine a player’s age by scanning their wrists and measuring bone growth.
The Indomitable Lions will not be able to kick off the tournament on January 12 as scheduled due to DR Congo’s withdrawal.
Four countries – Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Chad, and Central African Republic – will now take part in the qualifying competition, with the Central African Football Federations’ Union (UNIFFAC) rescheduling fixtures between January 12 and 24.