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Thursday, 17 September 2009

FIFA demands age tests as Nigerian Under-17 squad displays 'love of Volvos, worrying knowledge of 80's power ballads'

Nigeria's Under-17 squad may have to take MRI bone scans ahead of October's World Cup as FIFA investigate claims that several of the players are "the wrong side of 40" following a team-bonding karaoke session last weekend.

There is a strong tradition of Nigerian players using false passports when moving to Europe in order to raise their value.

The most notable example is former Newcastle United nearly man Obafemi Martins who famously divided his age by two and subtracted three when he signed for Inter in 2002 at the official age of 18.

The latest furore has come as Nigeria prepares to host the Under-17 World Cup after more than half the squad were unable to present documents proving their age.

And the problem has intensified with claims that a number of the players are not in fact young prospects but jaded veterans.

Suspicions were raised when a group of players showed up to a team bonding night in Volvos and the whispers intensified when members of the squad performed seamless versions of 'Here I Go Again' by Whitesnake and 'The Boys of Summer' by Don Henley while nursing half-pints before leaving at 10pm when the music was "turned up too loud".

"Sure we have had our doubts about ages," Nigerian Football Federation chief Sani Lulu admitted. "It's inevitable when some of your Under-11 lads are already shaving and your Under-21s remember the Moon landings.

"But we just kept quiet because it's really hard to find genuine 16-year-olds who are any good. Kids are really bad at everything."

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