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CAF orders MRIs for teens ahead of U-17 Afcon qualifiers

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has directed all member nations to carry out magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests on their players ahead of 2019 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers.

The MRIs are used to determine the ages of the teenagers, who must be under 17 to train ahead of the qualifiers, to avoid instances of possible age cheating. It's been used by FIFA since 2003 to ensure players are eligible, by scanning the bones in their wrists.

Nick Mwendwa, president Football Kenya Federation (FKF) told KweséESPN on Tuesday that CAF has said it is compulsory to carry out the MRI tests.

"Yes, it is true we have all been asked to have the young players undergo the MRI tests. I think it is a good move so that we do away with cries of age cheating," said Mwendwa.

Ahmed Hussein, the Uganda FA communications manager also confirmed to KweséESPN that his country's teens will undergo testing ahead of the tournament in Tanzania in August.

"We shall conduct the MRI tests on all the 31 players summoned, starting on July 10 to July 15th," he said.

"The tests will be conducted to ascertain the true age of players because it is one of the requirements by CAF."

Hussain added that although doing the MRI tests is an expensive venture, it is worth it to avoid problems in the future.

Both Kenya and Uganda will battle in the regional qualifiers (central East Zone) slated for August 11-26th in Dar es Salaam. The qualifiers will feature Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Djibouti.

Only one team will advance from the qualifiers to join the other teams from other regions for the 2019 AFCON U-17, slated for May 12-26th in Tanzania.

Apart from the hosts, each of the six zones receive one spot in the final tournament, and the zone of the defending champions receive an additional spot. Since Mali won the 2017 event, West A Zone receive two spots.

The top three teams at the 2019 tournament will qualify for FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru next year.

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