FOOTBALL: Nigeria’s chances of shining at the forthcoming U17 AFCON zonal qualifiers in Niger Republic have suffered a major blow after at least 15 of the 40 best players failed the mandatory MRI age test just two weeks to the big kick-off.
Some feelers have even suggested that the players who failed could even be far more than officials were ready to divulge.
The players affected include four of the team’s star strikers as well as a highly rated central defender from Plateau State, SCORENigeria has exclusively gathered.
We have further gathered that all the players have since been sent packing from the team’s training camp in Abuja.
Another set of 15 players are now to undergo the MRI scan to replace those who failed.
“It’s a devastating blow, everyone involved in the team is shocked,” an official admitted to SCORENigeria.
The Nigerian Federation must submit a 25-man provisional roster for the U17 AFCON qualifiers by today.
Last year, as many as 23 players failed the age test so much so that the five-time world champions failed to qualify for the U17 AFCON in Rwanda.
Coach Manu Garba’s team will begin their qualifying campaign on September 3 against Burkina Faso.
They are drawn in Group B along with Cote d’Ivoire and Benin Republic with only the overall winners of the seven-team qualifying competition advancing to the tournament proper in Tanzania next year.
Reacting to the test result, Garba said they would work hard to make up for the absence of the players: ” It’s unfortunate because they have been with us for a while but we will work hard to make up for their absence. They will be missed but we are confident of finding capable replacement “, he told Owngoalnigeria.com in a phone conversation.