NAIROBI, April 4 – The Sudan Football Association has said it will lodge a formal complaint to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) alleging Kenya fielded over-age players in their 1-1 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations first-leg draw played in Khartoum on Sunday.
“There were five players in the team who are born in 1996 and CAF rules say only players born from January 1, 1997 are allowed to play. I am currently not in Sudan, but the officials back home will make an official complaint with CAF,” Sudan Football Association treasurer and head of national teams, Osama Ataa El Mannan told Capital Sport.
When Football Kenya Federation was contacted on the matter, Nairobi NEC Member Chris Amimo, who travelled with the team said they were cleared to field players born in 1996 by the match commissioner.
“We were in a pre-match meeting and the match commissioner clarified that the tournament is also opened to players born in 1996. This is information that is even on the CAF website. It just means that our 1996 born players are eligible in the qualifiers but not in the final tournament next year,” Amimo declared.
If Sudan’s protest is successful and Kenya is found guilty by the CAF Appeals Committee, then the team will be disqualified from the qualifiers and Sudan handed a ticket to the second round.
Further sanctions might follow but that will be at the committee’s discretion.
Skipper Amos Nondi scored the equaliser for the junior Harambee Stars from the spot in the 49th minute to cancel out Hassan Mohamed Motwakil opener that gave the hosts the lead on the half hour mark.
Heading into the return leg in Nairobi on April 23, Kenya will need at least a goalless draw to advance to the second round.
A one-all draw would see the game move to extra time before the match is decided in penalties if there is no winner, while a higher scoring draw would see the Sudanese advance on the away goal rule.
With Kenya’s eyes fixed on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the Under-20 age cadre is an important anchor of the dream and the news of Sudan’s protest might come as a chiller especially to the dreams of the young boys who had hoped to qualify for the tournament in Zambia next year.