Police step search for missing Eritrean players

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-12-3 9:11:00

Kenya police have intensified the search for two Eritrean players who abandoned their team and went missing in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Saturday.

The two are reported to have absconded their team after being allowed to go and watch a match in the ongoing Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup regional showpiece on Saturday having trained for their Monday clash against Uganda.

According to Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Technical Committee chairman, Elly Mukolwe, the duo could not be traced after the team watched the hosts play Zanzibar on Saturday.

"It's true two Eritrean players have escaped from camp since Saturday and they have not been found yet. We are having a meeting with Cecafa organizers to determine which action will be taken against the team," Mukolwe told local radio station, Capital FM on Monday.

Mukolwe and Cecafa media officer, Rodgers Mulindwa, confirmed police have stepped up the search for the missing players with tight security being accorded the rest of the squad that went down 3-0 to defending tournament champions Uganda.

It is feared the missing duo who are yet to be identified could have fled to seek asylum in what is becoming an annual ritual with Eritrean players also fleeing at last year's tournament in Uganda.

This is not the first time the players vanish when they are participating in an international tournament. Last year a number of them disappeared during the 2012 edition held in Kampala, Uganda.

In 2009 when the tournament was last held in Kenya, 12 out of 25 members of the team fled after losing the quarterfinals 4-0 to Tanzania.

At the time, they were presumed to have joined the tens of thousands of Eritreans who flee their country each year to escape an increasingly paranoid and repressive regime.

The disaffection is particularly strong among young people who face decades of open-ended national service once they leave school.

Local police were unable to trace the dozen deserters who could have found their way to safe havens in Europe.

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