Dar es Salaam. The Cecafa-organised competitions are always fascinating events as they constantly supply moments of drama, brilliance and absurdity as the council has no idea of the whereabouts of 13 members of Red Sea of Eritrea.
They literally disappeared shortly after their quarter-final match of the just concluded Kagame Castle Cup, the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) confirmed yesterday.
TFF secretary general Angetile Osiah admitted that they are also in the dark as to where the Eritrea team players could be. Osiah said the Red Sea members failed to return to Eritrea with the rest of the squad and might be seeking asylum in one of the East and Central African countries. “We have informed the immigration authorities about the matter, we are optimistic they will arrest them, it’s very disappointing,” he said.
They are among the 25 members of the Eritrea squad who were in the country to compete in this year’s Kagame Castle Cup, which came to an end on Sunday at the National Stadium.
The TFF official said the players did not return to Lunch Time Hotel, Ubungo where they were booked after their final group stage match last week.There have been no reports or statements from the neighbouring countries about the whereabouts of them so far.
This is not the first time Eritrean football players went missing. In 2009 twelve players of the Eritrean national football squad have gone missing in Kenya.
The players were expected to fly back to Asmara after the team was knocked out in the quarter-finals of the 2009 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup but failed to show up at the airport.
They are reported to have disappeared in Nairobi with the intention of seeking asylum.
In May 2006, four players of the Eritrean football club, Red Sea, who were in the country to play the Kenyan champions, Tusker in an African Champions League match, defected in Nairobi after evading their government escorts.
To curb the trend, the Eritrean government introduced in 2007 a policy requiring all travelling athletes to deposit a sum of 100,000 Nakfa (6,700 dollars) before leaving the country and to remain in the company of the official entourage while overseas.