By Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
BARELY a year after being disqualified from the Cosafa Under-17 Championship for age cheating, Zambia faces similar fate following stunning revelations that they used an over-aged player in their two matches so far at this year’s tournament in Mauritius.
Reports from Mauritius suggest that Zambia fielded Mumba Muma in their opening game on Friday which they convincingly won 7-1. He also featured in yesterday’s 3-2 win over South Africa, but it has since emerged that Muma was actually born on June 2, 1997, and not June 2, 2002 as stated on the team sheet. That makes him 20 years.
An undated newspaper article profiling Mumba listed his date of birth as June 2, 1997, and a pupil at Maamba Private School in Zambia. According to the Zambian Cosafa Under-17 squad list, Mumba is a pupil at the same school turning out for Zamcoal Diggers in the Zambian First Division league.
Zambia’s disqualification in 2016 followed fresh Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) tests carried out on forward Nicholas Mulilo and Benjamin Phiri in Mauritius, which found that the players were over the age of 17 and were therefore ineligible to compete in the competition, according to Clause 10.5 (I) of the tournament regulations.
Zambia had willingly submitted both players for re-testing in Mauritius after complaints from two countries.
The pair had been tested, along with the rest of the squad in Zambia prior to their arrival at the tournament, as is mandatory for all players competing at the Caf Under-17 qualifiers and Under-17 Youth Championships Final Tournament, but information sourced later from Caf indicated that those tests were incorrectly done.
The re-tests carried out in Mauritius revealed the players were not eligible to compete.
MRI scans have become standard in assessing the age of players in this age-group as they have a 99 percent accuracy.
Every bone in the arm and leg has an end plate from which bones grow. When the growth is completed (usually around the age of 17), then this end plate disappears on the MRI scans.
If it can be seen on the MRI scans, then it is proof that the player is 17 or younger. – @skhumoyo2000