Gutu’s manager Calvin “Curry Pie” Nyazema told Standardsport on Thursday that there was nothing unusual about the midfielder’s case and went on to highlight several high profile Zimbabwean players, who have turned out for the national juniors using the birth certificates belonging to their young siblings.
He said some players were even using used birth certificates belonging to their sisters particularly those with Shona names. He added that some players had assumed new names in their quest for the European leagues.
Nyazema added that Gutu might be “two years older” than his purported age of 17 but was “certainly Under 23 years”.
“What I know that is that they might be a discrepancy with his age by two years but is certainly eligible to play for the Zimbabwe Under 23 squad. The problem is that it is very hard to prove his actual age because both his parents are deceased,” Nyazema said.
Nyazema made sensational claims that Gutu was the only player eligible to feature for the current Zimbabwe Under 23 squad, in the event that all the players underwent tests.
“If we are going to verify the ages of the Zimbabwe Under 23 squad that played Zambia you will find that Archford (Gutu) is only player that is eligible to turn for the Under 23 side. In fact Gutu is the only young player in the team. We know that all the players (Zimbabwe Under 23) are not eligible to play for the Under 23 squad,” Nyazema added.
Nyazema said Standardsport was leading a crusade to discredit Gutu who was trying to make an honest living.
“I think the media should be supportive of this youngman because he is trying to make an honest living but you have been demonising him including even writing emails to Ajax Cape Town. I am told that a football agent (name supplied) is paying you to discredit these players because they have not signed for his stable,” Nyazema said.
The admission by Nyazema over Gutu’s age leads credence to this publication’s story in May 17 2009, when the then Ajax Cape Town chief executive officer George Comitis said he believed the player was in 19 in 2009.
“Yes we have signed Archford Gutu on a three year deal. The other two players were not suitable to us (Tafadzwa Rusike and Oscar Machapa) and have returned to Zimbabwe.
“We are aware of Archford’s age discrepancy and believe him to be 19 years of age, not 16. He is still a good player for 19 years old,” Comitis said in the email.
Nyazema admitted that age cheating was rife not in African football but European football as well. He said the media should be sensitive when it comes to these matters and should rally behind Zimbabwean players.
“Do you honestly believe that Cristiano Ronaldo is 25. Wayne Rooney with that balding head is certainly not 24. That is not possible but when it comes to our own (Zimbabweans) we should support each other,” Nyazema said.
Gutu is one of four Zimbabwe Under 23 squad accused by the Zambians of breaking rules and regulations governing the qualifying tournament of the All Africa Games, which require players to below 23 years.
In 2008, Zifa issued a list of 35 players who they said they said would not be called for junior national team after refusing to undergo a “Greulich and Pyle method” (bone-testing) to determine their actual ages in the run up to the Under-17 African Youth Championships in Gambia.
Zimbabwe ended fielding a totally different team at the championships but were commended by the Confederation of African Football for the bold stance.
However with the coming in of the new Zifa board, the same players have been creeping back into the Under 23 squad.