By MICHAEL MIYOBA
“IF somebody has got talent but they are not in our age group we are going to send them away,” Zambia Under 17 national soccer team assistant coach Charles Bwale has said.
Bwale said there was a lot of cases of age cheating during the Under 17 player selection process ahead of this year’s Under 17 COSAFA Cup to be played in Mauritius.
In 2016, Zambia was disqualified from the COSAFA Under-17 championships staged in Mauritius after having been found to have fielded two over-age players for the tournament.
And on Monday, COSAFA reminded participating teams to register only players who were born after January 1, 2001 as they are the only ones who would compete in this year’s Under 17 COSAFA championship.
Bwale reaffirmed the technical bench’s commitment to selecting eligible players, noting that the technical bench would examine players to eliminate the culprits of age cheating to avoid what happened last year when Zambia was disqualified for age cheating.
“There is a lot of age cheating but we are carrying out the interviews with them. We are trying to eliminate those that are trying to cheat. If somebody has got talent but they are not in our age group we are going to send them away.”
Bwale said technical bench is working hard to ensure that it picks only players of the right age for national duty.
The technical bench has selected 40 players with the number of players picked from the national talent identification expected to be trimmed to 25 players before the close of this week.
“Last week, the number was overwhelming and there were about 50 boys so now we have 40. About 15 boys have to go for us to remain with a manageable number.
“We will work with only the eligible players. So we are not compromising on that,” Bwale said.
The selected boys are expected to undergo an MRI scan before heading to Mauritius for the COSAFA tournament which is Zambia’s first Under 17 assignment where the young Chipolopolo boys have been drawn in Group B alongside South Africa, Mozambique and Madagascar.
The tournament takes place from July 21 to July 31.