Under-17 national team, Golden Eaglets coach, Manu Garba has eventually selected 60 lads among the players has been grooming at the cadet camp in Abuja, as he prepares them to face the much dreaded Magnetic Resonance Imagery (MRI) scan.
Feelers from the Eaglets’ camp indicate that Garba is weighing his chances that over half of the kids lined up for the scan will scale through, hence his decision to list 60 of them for the mandatory tests meant to spot age cheats.
The players were picked from a month long screening conducted by Garba and his aides in the technical crew, and the lads have already started playing friendly games in Abuja, as they intensify preparations for the African U-17 Nations Cup qualifiers.
Garba’s reason behind the high number in the players picked is to forestall a reoccurrence of what happened last time out, when only limited number of his squad were selected for the scan, but several regulars failed the tests.
From those selected to go for the MRI Scan last time out, eight players from the starting line-up failed the test and it forced the coaches to rely on players outside their pool, only to eventually lose out in qualifying for last the African championship.
This time, the qualifiers will be played in a format based on the various regions of Africa that constituted the member nations of the region’s football governing body CAF.
Nigeria will campaign in the West African region for the ticket to qualify for the African showpiece which will serve as qualifiers for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Earlier reports indicated that the players and coaches are already apprehensive over what could be the outcome of the tests, as palpable fears are rising over the possibility of some key members of the squad getting the chop.
Garba confirmed that all players in the squad will undergo the MRI test this month, and admitted that anyone who fails will have to be dropped.
Last year, failed MRI tests accounted for an exclusion of the entire first team players he had prepared for an U-17 AFCON qualifier against Niger Republic, and Garba is holding palpable worries over facing a repeat occurrence this month.
Heading into that point, though, 60 players who have been training in Abuja, as they prepare for the next U17 AFCON will be hosted by Tanzania next year.
Garba, who won the FIFA U-17 World Cup at UAE 2013 with the like of Kelechi Iheanacho and Taiwo Awoniyi, is hoping to build a strong squad for the qualifiers, which will be on a regional basis – with winners advancing to the tournament finals.