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Soccer News of Wednesday, 16 January 2002

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Witchdoctors banned from Nations Cup

Caf have banned "team advisors", otherwise known as witchdoctors, from any role within teams competing in the African Nations Cup.

The Confederation took the step to avoid presenting a "third-world image" during the most high-profile tournament on the continent.

Countries that in the past have employed so-called "wise men" include Mali, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Cameroon, Congo, Togo, Ivory Coast and Zambia.

And there are reports that some intend to avoid the ban by buying their spiritual advisors tickets for the games.

Once inside the ground the witchdoctor will then get to work, spreading "juju" in essential places.

Witchdoctors have travelled with squads at past competitions to be available for consultation at all times.

Sceptical Kuffour

And Nigeria famously banned the Kenyan team's witchdoctor from attending a World Cup qualifier for France '98.

The Juju man had seen Kenya go on a nine-month unbeaten run since his employment. However, prohibited from attending the game, his team lost 3-0.

But the BBC's African Player of the Year, Bayern Munich defender Samuel Kuffour, is sceptical of the role they can play.

"It is an old belief that has no place in modern football," he said.

"Juju can never help a player become a superstar. Only hard work, training and discipline will do that."