AFC Asian Cup 2019: The tournament’s youngest player might not be the youngest after all

Mohanad Ali iraq

In one of the most baffling cases of age fraud in the sport, Iraq’s striker Mohanad Ali might just not be the youngest player at only 18 years and 6 months in the upcoming AFC Asian Cup 2019.

According to reports in Ahdaaf, which are from last year, the Iraq international’s real name is Hassan Ali Kadhim, which he used while representing Al-Shurta and Al-Kahraba, and he was born in 1997, contrary to the claims and a court ruling which term him an 18-year-old, and born in 2000 instead.

Story behind the name and age

The striker was accused of using his younger brother’s documents to obtain a passport which made him eligible to play in the AFC U-14 Championship in Tehran in 2014. His brother went by the name of Mohanad Ali Kadhim, the name which he uses now, as the report clearly states. Incidentally, he was the top scorer of the tournament then.

Later, it was reportedly revealed that the player has been using his brother’s name and he was forced to use his real name – Hassan Ali Kadhim- instead. As a result of which, the Iraq FA, in order to avoid any sanctions, chose against calling up the player for the national teams of various age groups.

The player, thus, wasn’t able to obtain a passport under the name Mohanad Ali Kadhim.

Court clears the player

However, as the report goes on to state, an Iraq court ruled in favour of the player last year, clearing him of any wrongdoings. The court said that because the player had already represented Iraq in an international competition and his documents were already registered with AFC, with his year of birth marked as 2000, he was free to apply for passport under the name Mohanad Ali Kadhim.

The striker is now set to represent Iraq at the AFC Asian Cup, having made his debut for the senior team in December last year with six goals in 10 matches already to his name. While there are no question marks over his goalscoring ability, his exact date of birth remains under a grey area.