Cameroon’s Roger Milla is no longer the oldest soccer player to represent Africa.
Kersley Appou, a striker from Mauritius, holds that distinction after appearing in an Africa Cup of Nations first leg qualifier against Mauritania a few weeks ago.
Milla held the mark of 42 years and 39 days until Appou – at 43 years and 354 days – set the new Africa record. MacDonald Taylor of the United States Virgin Islands holds the world record of 46 years and 217 days.
“I plan to continue playing,” said Appou, who was a substitute in his team’s 1-0 loss.
Milla played in three World Cups and was one of the stars of the 1990 finals at age 38 after coming out of retirement to lead Cameroon to the quarter-finals. He retired from competitive soccer in 1999 at age 47.
Meanwhile, Tanzania and Ethiopia have new coaches.
Dutchman Martin Ignatius has signed a two-year contract to coach the East African country. He coached neighbouring Mozambique that qualified for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations tournament and managed Burkina Faso’s Under-20 side at the 2003 International Soccer Federation (FIFA) youth championship.
Portugal’s Mariano Barreto also inked a two-year deal to coach Ethiopia. He replaces Sewnet Bishaw, who was sacked last February after a poor showing at the Africa Nations Cup competition in South Africa.
Ethiopia is one of 21 nations that have gone straight into the group stages of the Nations Cup qualifiers which start in September.
“I know Ethiopian players have natural talent, but most of the national team players are above the age of 26 and more so we have to look for the young boys if we want to qualify for tournaments,” said Barreto. “So, we will work to improve and change this situation. In all of the countries I have worked, I have produced top players, so I hope when I leave Ethiopia, I will see a top player on TV and he would say I have helped.”
Barreto coached Ghana for nine months before quitting in September 2004, citing problems in communications with that country’s soccer association. He also coached Portuguese side Maritimo and several other Europeans clubs, including Russian teams Dynamo Moscow and Kuban Krasnador.
The Confederation of African Soccer (CAF), meanwhile, has suspended Gambia from its competitions for deliberately falsifying players’ ages.
Last month, Gambia was disqualified from the continent’s Under-20 competition for fielding five over-age players in a match against Liberia. The five players were born in 1994 while rules state that the competition is open to players born on or after January 1, 1995.
The CAF launched an investigation into the case of one of the players, Ali Sowe, who was born in June 1994. He was found to have registered with the CAF in 2012 in the Confederation Cup with an identical passport number, but a birth date going back to 1988.
Gambia’s disqualification means the country will miss next year’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
And, the 30th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations will be played in Morocco from January 17 to February 8, 2015. The final draw will take place in Rabat on November 26.
Unlike previous tournaments, the semi-finals will be held on separate days – February 4 and 5.