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Age-cheating shakes Under-20 camp

Age-cheating allegations have shaken the Malawi Under-20 National Football Team which went into a week-long camping session Monday at Mpira Village in Blantyre.

The allegations first came to light when the call-up was released over the weekend, with many stakeholders expressing reservations over the eligibility of players such as Trevor Kalema, Mark Fodya, Levison Maganizo of Silver Strikers and Mike Mkwate from Nyasa Big Bullets.

The four players were part of the 2014 Under-20 team which Ernest Mtawali used to coach.

As the criticism intensified over the weekend, officials shifted the first training session from the morning to the afternoon Monday in order to verify the players’ ages.

A meeting between officials from the Football Association of Malawi (Fam) and the team’s technical panel yesterday resolved to use records from lower leagues to verify a player’s age other than just relying on passport details.

The team’s Head Coach, Gerald Phiri Senior, Monday said he had been to Super League of Malawi (Sulom) offices to obtain birth dates of the players called up from Super League sides.

“We will then sit down and compare the information from Sulom with what is in the players’ passports. Any player who is over the required age will be dropped,” Phiri said, adding that the scrutiny will extend to lower leagues, where most of the players cut their teeth.

National Youth Football Association Chairperson, Chimango Munthali, commended Fam for the exercise. He said this will help to stop age-cheating.

“Most of the players appearing on the list were with the FMB Under-20 League between 2010 and 2013. We personally know them and they should not lie. Let them give the opportunity to players who are deserving,” Munthali said.

He said over 10 players may be dropped after the scrutiny.

The team is expected to compete at the Cosafa Under- 20 Championship in South Africa this December.

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