By Brain Murandu
AGE-GROUP cheating has reared its ugly head in the junior national squads with serious allegations flying in the face of the national Under 20 squad selected to participate in the Zone Six c
hampionships set for Mozambique from April 22 to May 2.
IndependentSport has established that the Under 20’s technical department of coaches Nelson Matongorere, assistant coach Phillip Mbofana and manager Simon Makaza was not thorough in the search for “genuine” Young Warriors.
While it has been reported that the majority of the “youngsters” are schoolboys, southern region’s Railstars coach Ali “Baba” Dube revealed to IndependentSport that the selection process had not been thorough and could create problems in future.
Matongorere last week hastily called up a 28-member squad to camp at Ruwa’s Windsor Stadium at the beginning of this week prior to departure for Maputo.
Allegations are rife that some of the players could be well above the stipulated age of 20 with others having already celebrated their 21st birthday anniversaries.
“Come and let us talk because I’m driving to Ruwa now. The teams have not been selected and those names (that appeared in the Sunday Mail) are not of the selected team,” said Matongorere when reached by IndependentSport on Wednesday.
Only goalkeeper Washington Arubi, defender Elvis Meleka, steely linkman Onesimo Bhasera and the striking trio of Joseph Meki, James Gowe and Johnson Zimbabe were part of the National Association of Secondary Headmasters (Nash) Under 20 team.
The Nash squad selected from a strictly Under 20 tournament in Kadoma in 2003 featured in a Coca-Cola regional tournament involving winners Zambia and defending champions Malawi at Rufaro Stadium last August.
However Gowe from Mutoko High School was one of the players vetted out for over-age before the Nash annual tournament kicked off at Kadoma’s Chemukute Secondary School.
Former Kwekwe’s Manunure High School student Arubi, the Lancashire Steel goalminder had the authenticity of his age queried during the regional schools tourney at Rufaro stadium last year.
The Under-20 technical department was reportedly vague on the selection criteria they used.
But allegations being raised in some quarters are that the technical set-up can now not be trusted with “youngsters” after they took a fake national Under 20 team that participated in a Cosafa tournament in South Africa two years ago using false names.
Some of the Cosafa participants used their young brothers’ names but eyebrows were raised when Eddie Mashiri, now at South Africa’s Umtata Bush Bucks assumed the name Emmanuel.
Other players such as Samson Choruwa, Nyasha Chazika and Silent Katumba assumed additional names unheard of before.
Former national team coach Ben Koufie, now a chairman of Ghana Football Association and a Fifa instructor blasted cheating in an exclusive interview when he conducted a coaching course at Bulawayo’s United College of Education on May 16 last year.
“The reason football fails in most countries is that either there is no continuity or the ages are not correct,” he said.
“When I was director of coaching (in Zimbabwe in the 90s), I had to discipline some players. I had to dismantle a team by more than half when one boy who had been dropped leaked the information that some were cheating,” he said.