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Under-17 players face another MRI scan

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The Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) has announced that all Under-17 players will undergo Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan to confirm their eligibility before taking part in the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers.

The qualifying tournament will be part of the Region 5 Games slated for December 2 to 11 in Lilongwe.

The development comes just few days after 14 Malawi Under-17 National Football Team players were released from camp for being ineligible to take part in the competition.

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Thirty-two players for Malawi went for MR1 scan early this month, when 14 players failed the test.

A statement from Cosafa Sunday said Caf Medical Commission Member Thulani Ngwenya, who is also Cosafa Medical Officer, will conduct the assessment in Malawi.

“MRI is a Fifa approved method to determine eligibility in the Under-17 age group. The images are taken on the non-dominant wrist, which is the left hand side. The image takes about nice slices’ of the growth plate.

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“There are various stages of grading the growth plate, from one to six. Grade six is the last stage where the growth plate is completely fused. For the purposes of the Under-17 tournaments, everyone, who is grade six is therefore deemed ineligible to participate in this age group,” Ngwenya is quoted as saying on Cosafa website.

The MRI Scan is to ensure that the players are within the required age birth rate for the competition which starts from January 1, 2006.

Four teams namely Botswana, eSwatini, Comoros and Zimbabwe were excluded from the tournament after some players failed MR1 scan.

The junior Flames are currently in camp in Blantyre in preparation for the tournament which will be played during the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games in Lilongwe.

Malawi National Council of Sports recently disclosed that the Deklerk Msakakuona-led-technical panel will not replace the 14 players.

Nine teams will take part in this year’s tournament. Malawi were drawn in Group A alongside Botswana and Namibia. They will start the competition against Botswana on December 2 at Bingu National Stadium before meeting Namibia two days later.

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