Posted by: westafricanfootball | 12/04/2011

PART TWO – AGE-CHEATING IN THE NIGERIA U-20 NATIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM?

On Sunday I published an article about what I suspect to be a rather extensive age-cheating situation surrounding the Nigeria U-20 national team. Nigeria U-20 will later this month participate in the Orange African Youth Championship in South Africa. In my article, I was in particular skeptic regarding the age of the following five players:

Mackson Ojobo – Enyimba FC

Chidi Osuchukwu – Dolphins FC

Philemon Daniel – Kwara United FC

Uche Nwofor – Shooting Stars FC

Gomo Onduku – Sharks FC

Yesterday, the coach of the Nigeria U-20 national football team answered several questions from fans of Nigerian football at supersport.com:

http://supersport.com/football/football-features/news/110411/QA_with_John_Obuh

The following is taken from the Q&A-session:

“Segun Akinlawon asked:

It has been recently documented in several media outlets that the age of at least 5 members of your 2011 U20 team are highly questionable. In particular, the following players: Mackson Ojobo, Chidi Osuchukwu, Philemon Daniel, Uche Nwofor and Gomo Onduku have been documented as being over aged, having featured prominently in the Nigerian league or international matches since 2005.

You have a concerning history of calling up overaged players, as the controversy trailing Fortune Chukwudi and others readily come to mind.

Why is it that you fail to do simple homework when you recruit players? I find it difficult to believe that you are not complicit in this disgraceful act. You also do realize the consequences of being found guilty of fielding overaged players, don”t you?

Obuh answered answered:

Hello Segun.

Well, if you do have evidence that these players are indeed overaged, please do step forward with your form of proof.

I mentioned earlier that we do have well documented forms of proof that all the players in the squad are within the age limit.

I can say categorically that all the players are under the age of 20.

And when you say the players have been playing in the leage since 2005, I dont think it follows.

A player can be playing for a Premier League club for a couple of years, but it does not mean he is overaged as he may have started at a very young age.”

Earlier today, MTN Football and several other websites wrote a presentation, including date of births, of the Nigerian players who will take part in the Orange African Youth Championship in South Africa. I believe the article was written based on the official team list that the Nigeria Football Federation has filed to CAF. I base this on the fact that the date of birth’s of John Felagha (born 27.07.1994), Mohammed Aliyu (born 12.02.1993), Ramon Azeez (born 12.12.1992), Abdul Ajagun (born 10.02.1993), Olarenwaju Kayode (born 08.05.1993), Stanley Okoro (born 08.12.1992), Edafe Egbedi (born 05.08.1993) and Terry Envoh (born 12.12.1992) all are FIFA-confirmed and official.

The article can be found here:

http://africanfootball.mtnfootball.com/live/content.php?Item_ID=42547

In the article from MTN Football, the five players I wrote about on Sunday have the following birthdates:

Mackson Ojobo – Enyimba FC – DOB: 01.12.1992

Chidi Osuchukwu – Dolphins FC – DOB: 11.10.1993

Philemon Daniel – Kwara United FC – DOB: 20.11.1992

Uche Nwofor – Shooting Stars FC – DOB: 17.09.1991

Gomo Onduku – Sharks FC – DOB: 17.11.1993

Based on this information, I feel almost certain that these five players are operating with false date of births. Obviously, I am not in possession of documentation such as birth certificates, passports etc. and as John Obuh writes, it is difficult to find “proof”.

Nevertheless, I would like the readers of this blog to make up their minds based on the following information:

Mackson Ojobo – Enyimba FC – DOB: 01.12.1992

If this date of birth is correct, Ojobo was 13 years old when he won the Nigeria Premier League 2006 with Ocean Boys FC. It is a fact that Ojobo was part of the Ocean Boys FC team that sensationally won the title. This follows from several sources, including this one:

http://www.goal.com/en/news/89/africa/2009/06/17/1330160/club-spotlight-bayelsa-united-make-their-mark-in-nigeria

It can also be documented that Ojobo was part of the Ocean Boys-defence in January 2007:

http://allafrica.com/stories/200701291461.html

Allafrica is unfortunately not a free website but the following is taken from the article:

“Disu will likely retain goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa in goal, with Mackson Ojobo, Mimi Atedze, Ifeanyi Onwuatu and Brown Adegie likely to man the defence.”

In other words; if 01.12.1992 is the correct date of birth, Ojobo was 14 years old in January 2007.

Chidi Osuchukwu – Dolphins FC – DOB: 11.10.1993

I was quote shocked when I read that Osuchukwu apparently is born 11.10.1993.

It is a fact that Osuchukwu was part of the Gateway FC team that in 2007-2008 won promotion to the Nigeria Premier League. It is also a fact that Osuchukwu scored at least five league goals in the Nigeria Premier League 2008-2009. These facts are unfortunately based on statistical information found on websites that are now deleted. It can however be documented that Osuchukwu was part of the Nigeria U-20 national team in May 2009:

http://allafrica.com/stories/200905041123.html

If 11.10.1993 is the correct date of birth, Osuchukwu would have been 14 years old when the Nigeria Premier League 2008-2009 kicked off on 13.09.2008 and he would have been 15 years old when he was included in the Nigeria U-20 national football team.

Philemon Daniel – Kwara United FC – DOB: 20.11.1992

The given date of birth of 20.11.1992 was already known to me so I have no new information about Daniel. I wrote the following on Sunday:

“Daniel is a defensive midfielder at Kwara United FC. He was one of the revelations of the 2009-2010 season according to SuperSport and has also been in fine form this season.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe that Daniel is born on or after 01.01.1991. According to the official website of Kwara United FC, Daniel is born 20.11.1992, which is found by following this link:

http://www.kwaraunitedfc.com/index.php?option=com_bearleague&task=player&id=12&sid=1&Itemid=65

Interestingly, former clubs are apparently:

“Kaduna United FC (2001-2003); Niger Tornadoes FC of Minna (2003-2008)”

About 1 ½ years ago, Kwara United FC had a different official homepage and the date of birth of Daniel was given to 20.03.1986. The same date of birth is found on this webpage:

http://www.voiceoftheplayer.com/pdf/Philemon_Daniel_VOP_Player%20Brochure.pdf

According to my own records of Philemon Daniel, he was part of the Niger Tornadoes FC team as early as 2004. The following is quoted from the following article from AllAfrica, dated 02.05.2005:

“Thereafter it was a balanced affair by both teams as Gateway brought in the pair of Henry Osadolor and Ibrahim Ajani to light up their attack while Tornadoes, intent on avoiding another away defeat, substituted Solomon James with Philemon Daniel while Philip Auta replaced Shedrack Chuba.”

http://allafrica.com/stories/200505021039.html

Based on the above, I cannot possibly believe that Philemon Daniel is born on or after 01.01.1991. It does not seem likely at all that a 12 year old plays in the Nigeria Premier League in 2005.”

Uche Nwofor – Shooting Stars FC – DOB: 17.09.1991

On Sunday, I was not able to attach the document I was trying to attach. Please see the following file, taken from the former official website of Anambra Pillars FC:

Anambra Pillars

This clearly says that the date of birth of Nwofor is 28.02.1989.

Gomo Onduku – Sharks FC – DOB: 17.11.1993

It was also shocking to see that Onduku apparently is reported to CAF as a 17 year old player. This would actually make him 11 years old when he played for the youth team of Bayelsa United FC in the 2005 Norway Cup. See the following article from 21.08.2005 where the name “Richard Gomo Onduku” is mentioned:

http://idrett.speaker.no/organisation.asp?WCI=wiKlubbKassaNews&WCU=324723&CatId=16204

Bayelsa United FC participated in the so-called “Class A”, which was for boys “born after 01.01.1986 and later”, basically boys who were 17, 18 or 19 years old at the time of the tournament (August 2005).

It is easy to document that Onduku was part of the Bayelsa United FC team in the season 2008-2009:

http://allafrica.com/stories/200809120376.html

If 17.11.1993 is the correct date of birth, Onduku would have been 14 years old when the Nigeria Premier League 2008-2009 kicked off on 13.09.2008.

Based on the above, I cannot possibly understand that these five players are operating with correct birthdates. I would also like to point out that it is my experience that the players often are innocent and that it is the player’s agent or counselor who is responsible for the age-cheating.


Responses

  1. My name is edeh,now i understand,istead calling us (we u-20) u go there and take this mens.Am stil 17 but u will not see us b/cos we are playing in local leagues.Well am stil available i need this invitation cos i knw wat i can do with that opportunity if they invite.MY EMAIL(samsonedeh10@yahoo.com)or 08100220612

  2. Dear Sir,

    thank you for your kind words about my articles. I try to be very detailed and never write anything I cannot document or substantiate. I hope age-cheating will dissappear from African football but to be honest, it seems almost unlikely that this will happen during the next couple of years. I feel sorry for the talented footballer who actually is 18 or 19 and who experiences that his place in any youth-squad is taken by a 25-year old player. Best regards, Øivind Henrik

  3. I am very impressed with your detailed approach to the vexed issue of age-cheating in Nigerian football. As far as I am concerned, you have made your case with many of the suspected players, because the NFF or the clubs or even Coach Obuh are yet to say that the affected players did not play in the specified clubs that you mention. Please keep up the good work. As for the cheaters, they and Nigeria will reap the consequences down the road. Well done!


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