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Eritrea players to chase regional title, not asylum, says coach

When Kenya hosted the 2009 regional Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup, 12 members of Eritrean team disappeared from their hotel rooms after the tournament. Nobody spotted them again. The same trend was repeated in 2011 in Dar

When Kenya hosted the 2009 regional Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup, 12 members of Eritrean team disappeared from their hotel rooms after the tournament.

Nobody spotted them again. The same trend was repeated in 2011 in Dar es Salaam, where another set of 13 players sneaked out, never to return to their rooms or board the plane back home in Asmara.

In Kampala in 2012, another 17 members of the Eritrea team left their hotel and went to the government offices in the capital to seek asylum, which they were granted.

However, head coach Omar Ahmed has ruled out any member of his team going the same path as Nairobi hosts the tournament starting Wednesday.

“It is embarrassing, but the reality of the matter is that those problems of players sneaking out from the team camp is a matter of the past. We have talked about it and resolved to remain together and fight like a team,” Ahmed said here on Monday.

Eritrea is among the 13 teams that will be playing in this year’s Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) Senior Challenge Cup, the continent’s oldest competition. Others are Zambia, who won the Africa Nations Cup in 2012, Kenya (hosts), Zanzibar, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

However, mass defections by Eritrean players are becoming common occurrence, as the country is one of the world’s most secretive states ruled by a reclusive president.

Last year, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay accused the Asmara government of meting out summary executions, torture and detaining thousands of political prisoners. The players were also not left out.

“There is a sense of unity between the players and the top leadership in regard to what we want in this competition. What happened before is behind us now. The focus is on what we can achieve in this competition and bring glory and pride to our country,” said Eritrean coach.

But the Kenyan authorities have beefed up security and are not leaving anything to chance as they monitor the teams and Eritrean players will be one of the squads that will be closely monitored.

Tournament Director Gerald Chege said Kenya Police Commanders in charge of security in Nairobi, Machakos and Mombasa, the cities and towns where the tournament will be played, are on the alert to deter any repeat disappearance or any form of attack on the teams entourage while in the country.

“The security details agreed to mobilize all resources at their disposal to ensure all match days are secure. Teams will be secured to and from match venues. Team hotels will be out of bounds for unaccredited persons,” said Chege.

Teams have already started to arrive with Somalia being the first to touch down. Eritrea and South Sudan arrived on Sunday.

Review overview
  • semere November 26, 2013

    The regime is trying to cover up its diplomatic collapse and the recent international media coverage of the horrible condition in Eritrea. By bringing the players out of the country does not convince anybody. The comment of the coach, Mr. Ahmed Omar reveals the truth: “the players are here for title not for freedom”. He unconsciously admitted that there is no freedom in Eritrea. But for all of us, including for our players freedom is a higher value than football title. We prefer to lose the title but gain freedom.

    • Said November 26, 2013

      I agree you stated more than anybody else, but thay are now there now lite tham play , and do the best thay can , but the dictator son of b ×*×,.he do wall cande desperate, trying to gain political power again, he knows that he’s dead.

    • Said November 26, 2013

      Semere 100%I agree you stated more than anybody else, but thay are now there now lite tham play in have fun, and do the best thay can , but the dictator son of b ×*×,.he do all cande desperate, major ,trying to gain political power again, he knows that he’s dead.

    • i and i November 26, 2013

      the funny part is eritrea, somalia, south sudan being the first to touch down.

      • Tamrat Tamrat November 27, 2013

        the serious thing that these countries have better players in the diaspora than at home.

  • Truly Truly i say to you November 26, 2013

    Who is by the way the coach Colonel Omar Ahmed? Please look at his fiscal structure, specially to his stomach. He doest look sportsman at all, or is he a selected security officer agent appointed to look after and hunt players from the defection? Ameasing!
    Anyway despite hard circumstance, Eritrean are in sport, specially, in bicycle, football and long distance running are gifted by nature. So who ever is the trainer or the nation leader, like our brothers and sisters brought independence by their blood , despite Isayas all time sabotaging, i believe this time also as they can be champion.

    • Said November 26, 2013

      Truly you’re right ,but at least the players get a good nutrition,

      • Tamrat Tamrat November 26, 2013

        Ya, their legs is thinner than his hands.

        • Said November 26, 2013

          I don’t now what we comparen withe , one thinks to remember is Eritea is in thered world we do not expect much thax to dictator were in the bottom of the list, all I can said is good lack an I hope do the past they can go, go get tham boys.

    • MAIAYNI November 27, 2013


  • Keren November 26, 2013

    If the young Eritreans at home are not allowed to represent Eritrea, as they are being replaced by people who are born outside Eritrea as Ali Abdu used to send his wife to give birth to diaspora children, then young Eritreans will abandon Eritrea in masses.

    • Said November 26, 2013

      Keren by the way were this ali abdu I look every ware cant find hem .dead or a live.

      • ahmed saleh November 27, 2013

        Ali Abdu coward is somewhere in safe place but sadly his daughter paid the price .

  • Gezae November 26, 2013

    A good start Eritrean National soccer team, I hope the next time selection/s will be from all over the world.

  • Gebez November 26, 2013

    kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk ነቲ ስእሊ ምስረኣኹ ሰሓቅ ሞይተ::Back in the years, Eritreans were the best players of the Ethiopian National clubs. After so many years, Eritrea ended up with such skinny and miserable players. Are Eritreans in their right mind? Have these people comprehended what really is happening to their people and dignity?

    • Sorobeti November 27, 2013


      How do you laugh on these unfortunate souls, they are the best product of the misery created by the mafia regime of Isias.

  • Dani November 26, 2013

    Thanks for replying to my post and once again if you don’t wish good luck to your national team, I don’t know. What to call you other than uneritrean. You could be Eritrean by birth but not. By spirit. This is sport mr stone head. Atleast for a change say something positive. I am neither supporter nor opposer of the government. I know I will not make change by coming here and insulting the government. What I do is I give my moral support to my landsmen athletes, artist and so on. They are the one that brings the positive image of Eritrea. Tell me what do you gains if the players defect and run away. It might give you one min. Ejaculation after that the news will be forgotten. On the other hand their success would bring change among other Eritreans in Eritrea.
    For not understanding this simple thing I call you TESTA DI GALLO

  • Truly Truly i say to you November 27, 2013

    Dear readers please apologize me for that i say Ethiopian football is not becoming better. Realy by chance after i saw the second match video between Ethiopia and Nigeria, for world cup qualification that has held in Addis Ababa on 16, November 2013, i really realized how i am very distanced from the reality. Really Ethiopian had played very impressing football. Almost 90 minutes they were dominated. But unfortunately the Cameroon referee, i don´t know how much bribe money he received from wealthy Nigerian players, he canceled not only the Ethiopian 100% scored goal, but he was demoralizing them by giving yellow card. In my view Ethiopia supposed to win that much by 6 to 2. See the much your self and judge. Even in old time i didn´t see when Ethiopian playing such attractive football i would say! Bravo Neighbors!
    ክቡራት የሕዋት ከምቲ ትግርኛ ምስላ ዝብሎ፣ “ዘይቐንእ ኣይወለድ፣” ኣነውን “ጊጋ ፈጸሙ ዘይናሳህን ዘይእረምን ኣይሰብን እዩ” ኢለ ስልዝኣምን፣ ነቲ ጻወታ ኣከይረኣኹ፣ ናይ ኢትዮጵያ ኩኡሶ እግሪ ኣይተማሃየሸን ኢለ ብጌጋ ብምሕባረይ፣ ኣይትሃዙለይ! ኣነ ናይ ኢሳያስ መንፈስ ስለዘየብለይ ይቕሬታ ግበሩለይ ኢለ ንክሃትት ስክፍ ኣይብልን እዬ።

    • MAIAYNI November 29, 2013

      what a brave and an optimistic bro are u please..non of others can do it keep it up…

  • Tedalo November 28, 2013

    Sure they will return home. Because all the players are foreign based players like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Sudan and others. Shaebia no more trusts the Eritrean based players. Then the government’s propagandists will tell us no more escape.