The South Sudan Football Association (SSFA) said it is taking steps to investigate the circumstances under which the U-17 national team was disqualified from the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) banned the U-17 from the competition after five players in the Bright Star Junior squad failed the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) test in Algeria.
Speaking to journalists during a press conference in Juba Thursday, the Vice President of ASFA Charles Odwar said the samples would be taken to a third party for further screening.
“Unless we take these results to the third party, that is where we will not know now whether the Juba Medical Complex (JMC) or the CAF in Algeria is mistaken,” stated Odwar.
“We will take it to the third party because we want to prove what went wrong. It is a future of our children; even some of their parents now want to open a case because it is the future of their children……So, we are not going to leave them like that and we will follow any procedure in future,” he stressed.
Victor Lawrence, secretary general of the SSFA said the country’s football governing body did not forge the ages of the players.
“We have the documents for these players, these players all passed the process of documentation and they have their birth certificates, they did the MRI tests, but there is no forgery,” he clarified.
Michael Morjan, head of the national football committee explained that all the 24 players they went with underwent the MRI test before they travelled to Algeria.
“After 3 days from the MRI tests we received a letter from the CAF medical committee that 5 players among the 24 were disqualified yet two players among the five had played in the CECAFA before under the same machine when they played in Ethiopia, we wrote a complaint and a re-test was done but the CAF medical team insisted that they failed MRI,” he stated.
Morjan said the CAF medical team did not show them the MRI test results in Algeria.
In 2020, South Sudan U-17 were also disqualified in Rwanda after some players failed the MRI tests when the rules dictated that; if one player fails MRI test, then the whole team would be disqualified.
However, the current amended laws for CAF dictates that all players U-17 must be born between January 1, 2006 and 31st of December 2008; the second procedure is the MRI tests.
The law now states that a team will be disqualified if four or more players fail the test.
Morjan claimed that only two players failed the MRI tests even though they participated in a tournament organized by the Council of East and Central Africa Football Association (CECAFA), hosted by Ethiopia last September.
For his part, Remo James, the doctor of the South Sudan U-17 team, stated the test results for all the players were sent to the UK in order to determine their eligibility to participate in the tournament.
“We have got a very specialized hospital and experienced doctors who did the examination of the players as requested by the CAF. MRI tests were also carried out at the Juba Medical Complex and the results were then taken to the United Kingdom.”
The SSFA now said a committee headed by its vice president Charles Odwar had been formed to carry out further investigations. Other members are George Costa, Anna Nyakuet, Dr. Sally Samuel and Gabriel Daniel.
The tournament is expected to end on May 19, 2023. South Sudan was in Group C with Cameroon, Burkina Faso, and Mali.