32 Cameroon youth players fail age testing imposed by Samuel Eto'o ahead of U17 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers

Samuel Eto'o Cameroon
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ahead of playing in the Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations qualifiers later this month, Cameroon's U17 team have had 32 players fail age tests enforced by Samuel Eto'o, the president of the Cameroonian Football Federation, Fecafoot. 

Upon his election in December 2021, the former Barcelona and Chelsea striker promised to combat the issue of age-cheating in Cameroon through the use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) screening. MRIs scan the wrist to study the bone structure and indicate if a player is older than 17. 

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) also requires every player to adhere to the testing under its regulations. 

Cameroon host Congo, Chad, DR Congo and Central African Republic for the U17 AFCON qualifiers from January 12-24, with two teams progressing to April's U17 AFCON in Algeria. However, the nation's youth side is struggling to fulfil a complete squad ahead of their fixtures, due to age-cheating. 

Tests were initially conducted on the 30-player squad at the Cameroon U17s training camp near the capital Yaounde, with 21 players failing the tests.

Fecafoot released a statement on Wednesday 28 December: "21 players out of the 30 currently on training have failed at the outcome of the MRI tests.

"They were immediately removed from the group. Steps were immediately taken for their replacement. This action is the result of strict instructions given by the President of Fecafoot [Samuel Eto'o] in order to put an end to the tampering with civil status records which have, in the past, tarnished the image of the apex body of the Cameroon football. 

"Fecafoot urges all actors, in particular educators, to ensure that the ages by category are respected."

Replacements were called up to the squad, with BBC Sport Africa (opens in new tab) reporting that a further 11 failed the age tests on Tuesday 3 January. Manager Jean Pierre Fiala now faces a race against time to select a complete squad for the AFCON qualifiers, which start next week. 

This isn't the first time that the Cameroonian Football Federation has blocked players before, though. In 2017, 14 players failed tests ahead of the U17 AFCON, with FIFA first introducing MRI scans for the 2009 U17 World Cup. 

Guinea were disqualified from the U17 World Cup in 2019 after two of their players were found guilty of being too old. 

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.