It appears one of the most notorious suspected frauds in human history, perpetuated in several countries of the globe is about coming to an end. And in Africa particularly, the term MRI is not what the football officials would want to hear of at all ! Certainly not in Nigeria,hosts of this year's FIFA under-17 soccer competition,where several newspaper reports have it that as much as 16 of the final team being assembled by the country for the tournament failed a recent MRI (bone) test carried out on them.And I understand you have to be some three years or more above the 17 years mark to fail !
The respected former international footballer Segun Odegbami,one of the very few ex-Eagles whose birth,academic and general life history can be easily cross-checked,drove the point home when he testified about one of the culprits,a lad who shone brightly in the colours of a university two years ago - as a third year student!
I pray FIFA stick to this MRI thing, provided it is scientifically reliable.The age-group competions which were designed to help develop the game in third world counties particularly, have become a curse to us. Talented kids genuinely within the under 17 age bracket never get even the slightest of consideration when these teams are assembled.When last did a serving student of Igbobi College,CKC Onitsha or Edokpolor in Benin get to play for the so-called Golden Eaglets?
When FIFA said only the players' passports will be relied upon,they probably acted in good faith.But in a country where accurate social statitics remain a challenge,you know somebody was always going to take advantage of the situation.So we continue to shine,win and dominate the under-17 competitions and progressively deteriorate as the bar is set higher.Houses,hard cash and even national awards are given to supposed kids who should just be preparing to commence their professional careers.Incredible.
In past competitions we fielded incredibly talented 'kids';Sunny Umoru was 14,while Peter Ogaba was only 13 !Yet none of these players achieved anything after their 'under 17' exploits.And mark you, this is not an exclusive Nigerian affair .
If coach John Obuh is serious he can assemble a crack squad of genuine under 17 players in one week: Just go to the schools. All the states' sports councils in Nigeria know who their best student players are.Take their inputs,call a camp, and pick the best. And will they win the Cup ? Of course they dont have to at this level. Their proper mandate is to win The real World Cup for Nigeria in 2014 or 2018.Q.e.d.