MASERU – Lesotho’s Under-20 national team players are set to undergo Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) tests in a move aimed at weeding out over-age players ahead of the Caf Youth Championship in Libya in March.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging is an X-ray technology that is used to estimate a person’s age.
The tests, which will be conducted in Maseru, have been set for the last week of February.
The decision to test the players comes after world football governing body Fifa announced recently that it will conduct compulsory MRI tests ahead of the Youth Championships next month.
Fifa last month said it will disqualify any over-age players from taking part in the tournament.
Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) facilities and administration manager, Mokhosi Mohapi, confirmed these developments with the Sunday Express on Friday.
“We will test them as soon as they return from Saudi Arabia,” Mohapi said.
“How will the whole world look at us sending players to Libya who might be over age?
“How will the media look at us?” Mohapi asked.
Asked if any of the Makoanyane XI players were over-age, Mohapi was non-commital.
“This is Africa, it might be that they are over-age but realising that they want to play for the national team they end up giving their respective teams false information,” Mohapi said.
He said players were called to the national team based on information they would have provided to their clubs.
“Because we call them to the national team based on the information they (players) supply to their respective teams, it might happen some of them could be over-age,” Mohapi said.
“But I have no reason to doubt their age.”
Mohapi said there were 25 players in camp and the test will allow the association enough time to weed out those who are over the age of 20.
He said players and their parents will be asked to sign a consent form before the tests certifying that they are not over-age.
But a local private doctor who asked to remain anonymous said the MRI technology is more effective when used on children younger than 10 years.
He said the MRI scans lose their effectiveness when used on persons over the age of 12 and might be very difficult to estimate someone’s age when they are over 18.
“MRI can estimate the age of a person but it is not 100 percent correct. It is mostly 70 to 80 percent right.
“It is more accurate when used on persons less than 10 years old because they are still growing and have a huge gap between their body joints.
“That gap allows growth and can help estimate one’s age.”
The problem of players lying about their age is prevalent in African football.
There have been allegations that some football associations have allowed players to represent their nations even when they knew they were over-aged.