GAMBIA DISMISSES LIBERIA APPEAL AS ‘BASELESS’
The Gambia Football Federation has dismissed Liberia’s appeal against the country as baseless and assured that the Federation and its technical department is very careful when it comes to player eligibility in age category football.
This remark was made by the media officer of the Federation, Bakary Burama Baldeh yesterday evening after Liberia lodged a complaint to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on the allege use of overage players by The Gambia in last weekend’s AYC qualifier.
According to FrontPageAfrica, the LFA have appealed against the Gambia on the allegation that Buba Sanneh, Bubacarr Trawally, Saloum Faal, Ali Sowe and unused substitute Sampierre Mendy are ineligible to feature in the preliminaries having been born in 1994.
The tournament’s regulations mandate participating countries to field players who must celebrate their 20th birthday after March 22, 2015 because the finals will take place from March 8-22 in Dakar.
Players who have already taken part in a preliminary or final competition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup and/or have taken part in a preliminary or final competition of an Olympic football tournament were cleared to compete provided they still fulfill the above age requirement. The rules also states that any country found guilty of using an ineligible player would lose the game in default and would as well be thrown out of the competition.
The Federation’s spokesperson Buba ‘Star’ Janneh was not available for immediate comment but when contacted by Observer Sports, Bakary Baldeh refuted the claims made by the Liberians and assured that all the players who participated in the game were eligible. “The GFF and its technical department are very careful of players’ age and categories. However, we shall wait for our team of officials to report to us and the Executive will study their report before any conclusions could be made on this matter,” Baldeh told Observer Sports.
He continued: “Liberia is known for queries and protests. But I can tell you that all the players used were born in 1995 and at the time of the tournament in March 2015, they would not be over as well.”
Observer Sports has learnt that Liberia has in the past misinterpreted the rules and it remains to be seen whether there will not be a repeat of it when they protested the use of overage players by Niger in the 2013 qualifiers.
Liberia lost the first leg 3-0 in Niamey on April 22, 2012 but then team manager Eric Panton filed a protest immediately after the game that the hosts illegally fielded goalie Ouedraogo Salifou Issa, defenders Fechhal Sani Dermane and Amadou Hassane; midfielders Bassirou Bahari Oumarou and Alio Youssouf and strikers Ado Hayo Rabiou and Sechal Sani Dermane.
Although his protest was turned down on procedural grounds, the LFA re-submitted the same to the grievance and ethics committee of CAF with a US$1,500 fee. While the committee was studying the nature of the protest, Niger beat Liberia 3-1 in the return leg on May 6 in Monrovia. CAF dismissed the protest and it later emerged in Monrovia that the FA’s secretariat (as well as Panton) didn’t understand the rules governing the tournament.
In order for CAF to honour the appeal, the Gambian captain Bubacarr Sanyang also had to countersign the protest letter, but the former Brikama United goalkeeper who now plies his trade in Liberia turned down their request. And it remains to be seen if the protest would be honoured.