Posted by: westafricanfootball | 09/05/2011

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

On 10.04.2011 and 12.04.2011 I posted two articles about the possible age cheating at the Nigeria U-20 national football team. Nigeria U-20 participated and eventually won the 2011 Orange African Youth Championship in South Africa.

Since publishing the articles, I have received quite a lot of reactions, mostly positive ones but also quite a few suggesting I should mind my own business. However, no-one have ever presented any form of documentation which should suggest that my suspicions are groundless.

My articles can be found here:

https://westafricanfootball.com/2011/04/10/special-report-age-cheating-in-the-nigeria-u-20-national-football-team/

https://westafricanfootball.com/2011/04/12/part-two-age-cheating-in-the-nigeria-u-20-national-football-team/

On 17.04.2011, it was known that the team officials of Nigeria U-20 had excluded two of the players I wrote about, Gomo Onduku and Mackson Ojobo:

http://www.kickoff.com/news/21306/nigeria-drop-suspected-age-cheats-mackson-ojobo-and-gomo-onduku.php

Interestingly, the exclusion of the players was carried through so close to the start of the tournament, that Nigeria U-20 was unable to bring in replacements. The official explanation of the Nigeria Football Federation was that the players were dropped because of “technical reasons”. Apparently, the NFF still claims that all players in the squad fell within the approved age bracket.

The other players I wrote about in my articles, Chidi Osuchukwu, Philemon Daniel and Uche Nwofor, remained with the Nigeria U-20 national football team. All players had a wonderful tournament. Nwofor eventually became the top scorer of the tournament with four goals.

On 01.05.2011, I read an article from Vanguard where the former Chairman of Sharks FC, Adokiye Amiesimaka, claimed that Nigeria was “still using over-aged players to prosecute age-grade competitions.” The article can be read here:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201105040172.html

On 05.05.2011, the discussions regarding the age cheating situation took a rather shocking turn. The article below tells the story of Nigerian journalist China Acheru who accuses a NFF official of intimidation and harassment, apparently since he had quoted my articles in local newspapers and at different websites:

http://234next.com/csp/cms/sites/Next/Sport/Football/5697888-147/story.csp

On 08.05.2011, the same website published this very interesting follow up article:

http://234next.com/csp/cms/sites/Next/Home/5697504-146/story.csp

The author, Ifeanyi Ibeh, writes the following:

“China Acheru, a Port Harcourt-based journalist who also doubles as the media officer of Dolphins FC, reproduced the article in the April 16 edition of a Nigerian sports tabloid, but the allegations levied against the Nigerian players are in fact, hypothetical as there is no evidence to back the claims other than old articles where their names had been mentioned as well as a number of deleted websites.”

I believe Mr. Ibeh is partly correct. Some of my sources were indeed deleted websites, which I obviously was not 100 percent comfortable with. I therefore tried to back up the information found on the deleted websites with other, independent sources, together forming a “platform” of credibility.

Recently, I discovered that the website http://web.archive.org/ makes it possible to find information from deleted websites. This made me able to find the old website of Gateway FC, the former club of Chidi Osuchukwu of Dolphins FC. This PDF-document is a print from the website:

Former website of Gateway FC

The website of Gateway FC was deleted in April 2009. As the attachment shows, “Osuchukwu Chidi” is reportedly born 16.02.1990. According to the CAF-regulations, only players born on or after 01.01.1991 was eligible to play in the 2011 Orange African Youth Championship. According to the official team list published at Cafonline, Osuchukwu is born 11.10.1993:

http://www.cafonline.com/userfiles/file/Comp/AYC%20South%20Africa/Nigeria.pdf

Interestingly, the deleted website of Gateway FC also contains information about the current top scorer in the Nigeria Premier League 2010-2011, Ajani Ibrahim, who I have previously written about several times. Ibrahim’s date of birth is 05.03.1987 according to the website, which would make him 24 years old. Ibrahim was earlier this year included in the squad of the Nigeria U-23 national football team. In recent articles, for instance the one below, the age of Ibrahim is stated as “19”.

http://africanfootball.mtnfootball.com/live/content.php?Item_ID=39227

Mackson Ojobo was one of the players that were sent home from the tournament. Ojobo is born 01.12.1992 according to the official team list published at Cafonline, see above.

The PDF below is taken from the deleted webpage: http://nigeriasports.com/:

Match report – Bussdor FC vs Ocean Boys FC

The article is a report from the Round 20 match between Bussdor United FC and Ocean Boys FC (second level of Nigerian football) played on 27.08.2005. “Mackson Ojoba” is named as one of the defenders at Ocean Boys FC.  If the date of birth 01.12.1992 was the correct one, Ojobo would be 12 years old when he played this match, which is highly unlikely.

I would like to point out that I have never made any conclusions regarding none of the players. I have simply presented a lot of information, taken from various sources, so that the reader could make up his own mind. Obviously, I have never seen any passports or birth certificates of any player at the Nigeria U-20 national football team, so it is impossible for me to know for certain that cheating has taken place. However, based on the information I have found, it is hard to think anything else from my point of view.


Responses

  1. Dear Simon,
    thank you very much for your kind words about my articles. I strongly feel there actually was something to mention this time. We have all read accusations towards the Nigerian youth football teams before but these have often been based on picture of players and accusations that “he looks much older” than 17 or 18. I don’t like such accusations. However, in this specific case I believe the Nigeria Football Federation should have done some basic research before naming the final squad because honestly, it is not difficult to find out that many of the player’s ages were highly questionable. You are correct, the legal term “reasonable doubt” seemed highly appropriate in these matters. Again; thank you for your support and very motivational feedback! Best, Øivind Henrik

  2. Øivind
    BIG congrats on bringing up the issue and of course keeping it alive. Having read both previous post, I am sure that been a layer, you would have never mentioned anything, if there was nothing TO mention. There is REASONABLE doubt about the age of some players.
    Great stuff as usual.

    Regards
    Simon


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