REVEALED: How ‘AFCON’s youngest player’ Wilfried Douala was nabbed for alleged age cheating

Nathan Duala during the 2023 AFCON | Guardian

REVEALED: How ‘AFCON’s youngest player’ Wilfried Douala was nabbed for alleged age cheating

Ayoola Kelechi 19:59 - 12.03.2024

The Cameroonian midfielder was fingered in a recent age cheating scandal and this is the incredible story of how he was allegedly caught

Amidst the celebration of Africa's most prestigious football tournament, the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), a scandal has emerged, casting a shadow over the integrity of one of its youngest participants.

Wilfried Nathan Douala, hailed as the youngest player at AFCON 2023 in Ivory Coast, finds himself embroiled in controversy over alleged age cheating, raising questions about his identity and eligibility.

Wilfried Nathan Douala's journey from obscurity to the limelight took an unexpected turn when he was identified as part of a group of 62 players suspended from the Cameroonian league due to administrative discrepancies. Douala, representing Victoria United as a midfielder, garnered attention not for his on-field exploits, but for the clouds of suspicion surrounding his age and identity.

Unravelling the Mystery: A Tale of Changing Identities

The saga of Wilfried Nathan Douala took a dramatic turn when investigative efforts by Le Monde Afrique unearthed startling revelations about his past. Archives from the media outlet revealed a previous encounter with Douala, then known as Alexandre Bardelli, during his stint with the Oryx club in 2022.

Nathan Douala is said to be highly regarded in Cameroon. (Photo Credit: X)
Nathan Douala is said to be highly regarded in Cameroon. (Photo Credit: X)

During this encounter, Douala claimed to be 21 years old, a stark contrast to his official age of 17 in 2024. By cross-referencing various sources, including social media profiles, physical attributes like tattoos and scars, and facial recognition software, Le Monde Afrique established a link between the two identities, suggesting a deliberate attempt to alter age and identity.

Suspension and Fallout

The Cameroonian Football Federation, under the leadership of legendary football icon Samuel Eto'o, took swift action in response to the revelations.

On March 10, the federation announced the suspension of Wilfried Nathan Douala from the first division championship on grounds of "false identity." This move not only tarnishes Douala's reputation but also places the federation under intense scrutiny.

Potential Sanctions and Consequences

The implications of Douala's alleged age cheating extend beyond personal repercussions. With Cameroon potentially facing sanctions for fielding a player with falsified identity, the federation could incur severe penalties, including suspension from future editions of the AFCON. Such repercussions would deal a significant blow to the Indomitable Lions, jeopardizing their participation in one of Africa's premier football competitions.

As the controversy surrounding Wilfried Nathan Douala continues to unfold, the footballing world waits with bated breath for further developments. With the potential for far-reaching consequences, including sanctions and suspension, the saga underscores the importance of upholding integrity and fair play in the realm of African football.

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