Five players of Eritrean U-20 football team have disappeared from their Hotel in Jinja ahead of their semifinal against Kenya of the on-going CECAFA U-20 Challenge Cup in Njeru.
The players who have vanished from the team hotel include; Hermon Fessehaye Yohannes, Mewael Tesfai Yosief, Simon Asmelash Mekonen, Deyben Gbtsawi Hintseab and first choice goalkeeper Girmay Hanibal.
Aimable Habimana, the Chairperson of Organising Committee for the Council of East and Central African Football Associations (Cecafa) confirmed the disappearance of the players on Tuesday.
“The five players are missing at the Speke Apartments. We have decided to beef-up security around their hotel and the team so that we end the tournament on a good note,” said Habimana.
During the team training for the Eritrean team at the Fufa Technical Center in Njeru on Tuesday, only 14 players were available.
Eritrean players have had a history of disappearing during sports tournaments to seek asylum in other countries. In 2011 during a Cecafa event in Tanzania 13 Eritrean players vanished and later requested for asylum, while 12 members of the national team sought asylum in Kenya in 2009.
In 2010, during the Cecafa tournament in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 13 Eritrean players disappeared and defected. Several of those players have since ended up in Houston, Texas under a US refugee resettlement program.