Coach of Golden Eaglets, Manu Garba
By Olawale Ajimotokan
Coach of Golden Eaglets, Manu Garba is anxious as he awaits the outcome of the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) test which the players underwent last month.
Garba summed up this mood ahead of the resumption of the second phase of theU-17 team camping that will feature 25 new players this weekend in Calabar.
Last month, we exclusively reported that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) subjected about 40 players in the national Camp to the MRI test, so as to root out age cheats from the team.
The test was in compliance with a FIFA circular sent to all the affiliated federations, through the Confederation of African Football (CAF), that all prospective U-17 players, must under go and pass the MRI test before they can feature for their nation in any internationally sanctioned competition.
Nigeria face its first international baptism under the watch of Garba, when the Eaglets travel to Niamey on September 8, where they will meet Niger Republic in the first leg of the two qualifying matches for a place at the African U-17 Championship.
Monday night, Garba said he was concerned like anyone else because of the condition by FIFA that all the players must undergo a thorough Grade 1 MRI test, as against the usual Grade 5 which was the scope in the past.
“If you factor the record and facial looks of the players, you might think that ¾ of them will pass the test, but the MRI test is going to be a rigorous examination now as FIFA is insisting on a Grade 1 test instead of Grade 5 and it is difficult to know who will scale through that,” Garba said.
While he noted that any player that is over 20 years of age will have limited chances of scaling the test, he nevertheless said he hoped most of his players would be cleared as “there is no guarantee that even a player within stipulated age range will scale through”.