Zambia Under-17 national team assistant coach Charles Bwale says they are taking no chances with age-cheats this year ahead of the 2017 COSAFA Under-17 Championships to be staged in Mauritius from July 21-30.
Zambia stormed through their group in 2016, winning all three matches, but were disqualified from the competition when two of their players failed MRI scans that suggested they were older than they claimed.
It was a bitter disappointment for the majority of the Zambian side that were the correct age, and Bwale says they are putting the players in line for selection this year through stringent tests to make sure there is no repeat.
It follows extensive country-wide trials, that has seen a number of hopefuls assessed by the technical team.
“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,” Bwale told FAZFootball.
“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.
“We will work with only the eligible players. So we are not compromising on that.”
Zambia have appointed Mwansa Kapyanga as their team manager for the 2017 COSAFA Under-17 Championships. Kapyanga, secretary of the Kasama United Youth Academy, is a hugely respected figure within Zambian football.
Zambia have a tough pool at the COSAFA Under-17 Championships having been drawn in Group B alongside last year’s beaten finalists South Africa, Mozambique and Madagascar.
Group A at the championships includes hosts Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Malawi.