Kenya police step up search for missing Eritrean players

Nairobi: The Kenyan police have intensified the search for two Eritrean footballers who abandoned their team and have gone missing.

The duo had been allowed to go and watch a match in the ongoing Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup Saturday, having trained for their Monday clash against Uganda, reports Xinhua.

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 organisers to determine what action will be taken against the team," Mukolwe said Monday.
Mukolwe and Cecafa media officer Rodgers Mulindwa confirmed that police have stepped up the search for the duo with tight security being accorded to the rest of the squad that went down 0-3 to defending champions Uganda.

It is feared the two, 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 players have vanished while participating in a tournament. A number of them disappeared during the 2012 edition held in Kampala.

In 2009, when the tournament was last held in Kenya, 12 out of 25 members of the team fled after losing the quarter finals 0-4 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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