South Sudan’s U-17 football team has been disqualified from the African Cup of Nations U17 tournament in Algeria after five players failed the MRI test.

The South Sudan Football Association (SSFA) expressed regret for the situation and acknowledged the decision made by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

SSFA Spokesperson Albino Kuek Deng revealed the MRI test was conducted on 26 April and was intended to confirm that all players met the age eligibility criteria established by the competition’s regulations.

However, 48 hours after the test was conducted, the SSFA said they received a notification from CAF indicating that five players failed the MRI test and were deemed ineligible for participation in the competition.

“We immediately wrote a complaint to CAF medical committee an official complaint against their decision attaching the MRI results we did in Juba, in accordance to Article 27.6 sub article (iii) of the U17 regulations. The complaint was rejected by the medical saying that their first and second readings remain the same,” a part of the statement issued by the SSFA read.

“We fully understand and respect the decision made by the competition’s organizers, and we apologize to our fans, sponsors, and partners for any disappointment this may cause,” said the SSFA.

“South Sudan Football Association would like to emphasize that we have always been committed to fair play and sportsmanship. We have taken all the necessary steps to ensure that all our players meet the eligibility criteria set by the competition’s regulations. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, some of our players were unable to participate in the competition.”

The team intends to participate in future competitions. A press conference is being planned to provide further information about the disqualification.