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Page last updated at 15:45 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 16:45 UK

Nigeria rejects Fifa age scans

By Oluwashina Okeleji
BBC Sport, Lagos

NFF president Sani Lulu
Lulu wants parents to verify ages

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) says it will not accept the Fifa-approved MRI bone scans to determine the ages of players due to take part in the Under-17 World Cup.

In a move likely to raise more questions than it answers, the NFF president Sani Lulu rejected the use of MRI scans, saying they are "not in the rules and regulations of the tournament."

Lulu's comments come just weeks after the NFF dropped 15 players from their Under-17 squad after they failed the age-tests conducted.

Nigeria conducted MRI scans in a move seen as a pre-emptive strike at Fifa's requirement for all players to be age-tested during the tournament to be held in October in Nigeria.

But barely four weeks after the revelation, Sani Lulu has rejected criticism surrounding the tests, insisting he w ill not accept the MRI results.

"I've always maintained that I'll not use the MRI to disqualify my players because it's not in the rules and regulations of this tournament," Lulu told a local radio station in Lagos.

But his comments have irked Sports Minister Sani Ndanusa who has rejected calls to invite the parents of the national under-17 players to verify their sons' ages.

"We will not deviate from Fifa's requirement in terms of ascertaining players' true ages," a visibly angry Ndanusa told journalists in Abuja.

"The whole world has gone digital and we're following suit. We're no longer in the analogue era.

"Fifa wants MRI scans used and we're going to adhere to that, simple."

The spat between Lulu and Ndanusa has generated heated debate in Nigeria, with fans and the media calling for the sacking of top NFF officials.

Accusations of age cheating have blighted Nigeria's success at international age group tournaments in recent years.

The Golden Eaglets have won the Fifa Under-17 World Cup three times - 1985, 1993 and 2007.

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see also
Nigeria players to be age-tested
14 Jul 09 |  African
Nigeria drops players after scans
26 Aug 09 |  African
Nigeria handed tough U17 draw
08 Aug 09 |  African
10 Apr 10 |  African
Nigeria are U-17 world champions
09 Sep 07 |  African

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