AGE cheating is one of the biggest challenges which have been plaguing world football, especially in Africa.
It made headlines here in Zimbabwe in November when the Young Warriors were expelled from the COSAFA Under-17 Championships.
The national youth team were accused of fielding some over-aged players at the tournament in South Africa.
But, while the ZIFA investigation into the farce is yet to be completed, six months after the case exploded, the case of Guelor Kanga probably pushes whatever happened, with the Young Warriors, into the shade.
The attacking midfielder, who has been playing in Europe for about a decade now, is being accused of not only taking more than five years, off his actual age, but even falsifying his nationality.
That he even plays for one of the top clubs in Europe, Red Star Belgrade of Serbia, who regularly feature in the UEFA Champions League, makes his case even more intriguing.
He claims he is Gabonese and plays for the national team, alongside Arsenal captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is also the skipper of his national side.
Aubameyang is 31 and Guelor, according to the Gabonese Football Federation records, is 30.
But, that is just one side of his complex story.
The DRC football authorities claim he is not Gabonese, but is Congolese, and he has been playing for the Gabonese on falsified documents.
While the documents claim he was born in Gabon, on September 1, 1990, which makes him 30 years today, the Congolese claim he was born in the DRC.
Interestingly, they also claim his mother died in 1985, which means he is more than 30 years old.
The also claim he real name is Kiaku Kiaku Kiangana and he was born on October 5, 1985 in Kinshasa, DRC.
They want the Gabonese Football Federation to be charged with forgery and non-compliance with the FIFA procedure relating to his change of sporting nationality, when he moved from Congo to Gabon.
These irregularities could possibly lead to a disqualification of Gabon from the 2021 AFCON finals.
Constant Omari, who was recently interim president of CAF before Patrice Motsepe took over, confirmed the case was pending.
Kanga, who has won 46 caps for Gabon since his debut nine years ago, played for the Panthers in all six of their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, including both games against DR Congo (where Gabon took four points).
CAF wrote to Gabon advising them of the probe.
“We hereby inform you that CAF has opened an investigation into the case in question. You are kindly requested to send us your comments concerning the allegations mentioned in the correspondence of FECOFA in order to allow us to submit the complete file to the competent bodies of CAF,” a letter from CAF read.
Red Star Belgrade also commented on the issue.
“Regarding the information that came from Africa about the age of our football player Gelor Kanga, we want to point out that the Red Star trusts its football player,’’ the club said.
Kanga has a valid Gabonese passport.
“He played in Russia and the Czech Republic and had no problems whatsoever. We see this information as a war between the two alliances over the African Cup of Nations, in which Kanga is collateral damage.
We hope that the situation will be resolved as soon as possible in favour of Gelor Kanga.’’ — Sports Reporter/BBC Sport/mozzartsportke.com