Jan. 1 is the date (minus the year) one gives in this part of the world
when one's birth is not recorded by a government entity.
And I think that many, if not most, players are older than their listed ages. Having coached b'ball for 5-6 years in this part of the world many years ago, I personally know of basketball players whose DOBs were falsified so that they could play in U17 or U19 tournaments.
The most egregious case of a player who was much older than his legal/official age was El Hadji Diouf, a Senegalese who starred in the 2002 WC. (Senegal beat defending champ France 1-0 in the opening match -- he got the assist on that goal -- & went on to reach the quarters.) Diouf then played in the PL. He was probably several years older than his listed age.
To be honest, I don't pay much attention when Ghana or Nigeria win U17 or U19 tournaments. Especially Nigeria, where every aspect of life, and at all levels, seems to be tainted by corruption.
(That said, Nigeria is an incredibly vibrant country; it is the African super-power economically. And I recall having read that Nigerian-Americans outperform Asian-Americans in many ways, incl. academically. I don't know if that's true, but Nigerian-Americans are making major contributions to our country.)
There is LOTS of cheating in football in this part of the world. For the WC qualifying prior to the 2014, I think I found 5 matches in Africa that teams had to forfeit for having cheated. Usually for having used ineligible players -- generally players who should have sat because they had received too many yellow cards, but in 1 case a team used a player from a foreign country that was not yet a citizen, or something like that.
By the way, I remember watching the 2015 Africa Nations Cup that was hosted by Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony whose population in 2017 was estimated to be 1.268 million.. As I recall, not a single starter was born in Equatorial Guinea. Most starters were from neighboring Cameroon, although one may have come from Brazil.
[Post edited by Hoo in W. Africa at 02/08/2020 11:54AM]