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GAMBIA’S FOOTBALL TEAMS TWO YEAR BAN FROM ALL COMPETITIONS

Gambia's 'youth' team player Ali Sowe - played for the under-20 side but could be 25 years old says CAF

Gambia’s ‘youth’ team player Ali Sowe – played for the under-20 side but could be 25 years old says CAF

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has banned Gambia from all African football competitions for two years for fielding five overage players in a qualifier for Africa’s under-20 championship, it was announced on Saturday. Gambian clubs also won’t be able to play in CAF’s continental competitions for two years.

CAF’s executive committee decided to suspend the Gambia Football Association at a meeting last week after the under-20 team was found to have forged some players’ documents.

The ban means Gambia’s senior national squad will not take part in qualifying for the 2015 African Cup of Nations. The Gambian team had been due to play Seychelles this month in a first-round qualifier.

Gambia, a small West African nation, has never qualified for the African Cup or the World Cup.

FIVE PLAYERS OVERAGE

CAF found that all five players involved in the scandal were born not later than 1994 and were therefore ineligible to play in the under-20 qualifying game against Liberia on April 6, a match won by the Gambia 1-0 before the result was annulled and the game awarded to Liberia. CAF’s rules say that only players born from 1995 onwards can play in the competition.

Ali Sowe, one of the players involved who plays for the Italian club Chievo, could be as old as 25, CAF discovered, after it found records from a 2012 club competition that showed his birthday on his passport to be October 14, 1988.

Although the Gambia’s national football teams have never been to a major tournament, the country has had some success in youth competition, winning the 2005 and 2009 African under-17 championships.

This is not the first time African football teams have had a problem with age cheating in youth tournaments. FIFA now uses MRI scans on players’ wrists to catch age cheats at international youth tournaments.

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