When you point one finger, three more point back at you.
This is what Decolas Kiiza, the local football governing body, Fufa’s acting CEO is trying to say after Uganda’s U-20 side were on Friday disqualified from the CAF U-20 Cup of Nations qualifiers for fielding an overage player twice against Rwanda.
Rwanda Football Association (FERWAFA) claimed that during the first leg played in Kigali and the return leg in Kampala, Uganda fielded Vipers Sports Club goalkeeper James Aheebwa whose identity wass questionable.
CAF’s Appeals body today acknowledged that Aheebwa’s CAF Champions License with Viper indicated that he was born on March 27, 1997, while according to his passport used in the qualifiers, he was born on May 19, 1998 which flouts their rules.
With this, Rwanda instead of Uganda will now host Egypt on May 21st and the second leg will be two weeks later in Egypt.
What is baffling is why Fufa’s technical committee didn’t go ahead and remove Aheebwa from the squad as soon as the error was noticed after the first leg.
Observers insist that the federation had probably not acted in good faith because they badly wanted victory and have never shown the will to fight age cheating.
While U20 coach Kefa Kisala may not be to blame for the administrative cock-up, this is not the first time Uganda has suffered elimination from the competition for non-footballing reasons.
In July 2010, The Hippos – as Uganda’s under-17 team is known were kicked out of the Africa Cup Championship and banned for three years based on allegations that Uganda fielded an over-age player, Ivan Ntege against Zambia.
Rogers Mulindwa, the then Fufa spokesman went about trying to put a new spin to the term patriotism, a number of young players found themselves playing the unwilling victim in this sorry episode.
The federation’s 2010 whistleblower turned national teams’ coordinator Patrick Ntege who is quite responsible for the sham last month during a call-in told Dembe FM’s sports show that: “As Fufa we may have erred in the team selection and I think we must cross-check the anomalies pointed out by our opponents on [the] players’ real ages.”
Mr. Ntege during the same show actually went ahead to call ex Uganda Cranes star Joachim Buwembo names for the later claiming that he could get at the players’ real ages from the National Post-Primary Football competition records data-base which has actual ages of every player that has participated in the tournament since 2005. Many of the Under-17 and Under-20 players today are products of the National Post-Primary Football tournament, now, the Copa Coca-Cola.
In all honesty and partly due to pressure, by going to secondary schools and getting fairly genuine youngsters to partake in the 2014 Caf U17 Championships qualifiers but the schoolings perhaps ended with that campaign. That crop of players were supposed to make the core of the current U20 side but only three led by Frank ’Zaga’ Tumwesige made the cut.
The player in question, Ahebwa, is a former St Mary’s Kitende player and student says that he can’t comment for now and is waiting to be asked for clarity; then he will prove them wrong.
“Those are just assumptions but I can play in this team because I am in that age bracket,” said Ahebwa
The skillful goal stopper studied from St Mary’s Kitende since senior one in 2010 up to when he completed his A-level at the same school in 2015.
Straightforward to Friday’s disqualification, a statement, released on the federation’s website, said: “Fufa is in receipt of Communication from Confederation of African Football in regard to FERWAFA’s protest.
“However the discrepancy in the dates of birth for goalkeeper James Aheebwa on the CAF Competitions Management System (CMS) and National passport is a matter not allowed by CAF regulations during the various age group competitions as per Article 46 of the CAF U-20 Competition rules and regulations.
“Part of the communication reads ‘It was also noted that the two dates of birth are within the age limit (players must be born after 1.1.1997)’.
“CAF quoting Article 46 (a) which states ‘A player will not be qualified to participate in the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations if the date of birth indicated in his CAF license is different from the one on his passport.
“It is not time to point accusing fingers at any one but it is very disappointing that minimal work was done while submitting players’ documents to CAF for the competition. Let us try to digest the situation and at the right time we shall issue an official and detailed statement on this matter. It is sad that the players can’t continue to show their skills in the competition,” said Mr. Decolas Kiiza.
Omara Apita, an official from the Ministry of Education and Sports once said as a ministry, they are aware of the “age-cheating” practice, that is “perpetrated through players having multiple passports.”
He explained that they are investigating the allegations because “age-cheating doesn’t portray our country in good light.” With Apita’s sentiments, would FUFA follow suit?
Fufa may not appeal the decision because they sound guilty in their statement.