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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
  • jos November 26, 2013

    The coach is admitting that there was defection in the past, let him know it is dangerous to admit the reality in HGDE’s erra. The president himself denied that he has never heard of any defection in Kenya. Even Ali Abdu has denied it. How can now admit it this is very dangerous and he has to seek asylum at the end of the competition.

  • simerrr2012 November 26, 2013

    Coach Ahmed Omar, we have heard this kind of cheap excuses from Ali Abdu and where is Ali Abdu now. Just save your ass mr.Ahmed and take your boys with you to freedom. Sooner or later big snake Isayas will swallow all Eritreans just for one reason. The man hate Eritrea and Eritreans. What does it mean the security is (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) Does it mean the Eri boys has no right to seek asylum or to talk to anyone they want to talk…com on Nairobi is not Asmara …I think UNHCR should always watch the corrupted Kenyan police so they do not hinder our boys to seek asylum. Do not worry the freedom ring can be heard from all part of Kenya.

    • tesfa November 26, 2013

      This only concern Eritreans if you have something negative to say go to Tegrai net

  • Dani November 26, 2013

    It is time to bring the pro. Eritrean players in the world such as Golgol Mebrahtu (Australia), Henok Goitom , Walid Atta (Sweden), Haben, Sirak, and Hanne Hagaray (Holland). This is the best solution to bring back and shine our national team. For those who are praying day and night our players to defect, I say you are not Eritreans but Woyanes A$$ lickers. Look you sugar daddy Woyane is in trouble with its abandoned citizens in Saudi Arabia. this will be your future if you relay on Woyane. Wishing good luck to your national team ain’t gonna make you Shabias supporter, it makes you True Eritrean.

    • i and i November 26, 2013

      don’t worry they r being monitor by security forces 24/7, they can not escape.

  • David November 26, 2013

    Mr. Omar you are not saying Asmara’s iron feast rule the cause of asylum is changed but the kids are going to be terrorized if they try to seek asylum. They do have enough terror in Asmara, they do not need Kenya’s police to add more pain into what they have already. By the way even if they do not do it at this time because of security deterrence they will do it next time.

  • David November 26, 2013

    Because you are Shabia’s supporter you are an ultra eritrean, the Shabia opposers are less Eritreans or Weyanes. You have a rat mind to characterize citizens right to paint and plant whichever you want. Your god Shabia has done this for the last 22 years, but did not bring any mana to the Eritrean people. What a flush person, keep clapping for your god Essayas and you will be red handed with your boss.

  • The maverick November 26, 2013

    Colonel Ahmed Omar seems confident the players are there to hunt title not freedom. Well,their families must have been taken hostages by the thuggish regime and they must have made learn the plight of their families in the hellish concentration camp of the bandits. The thugs are not only notorious for taking captives innocent adults but also children. They might choose to go back to the suffocating world of shaebia for the sake of their loved ones.

  • Said November 26, 2013

    Maybe the but the big picture is which is wrong, either way we look to the big picture, you representing, Eritrea, not the dictator, good like go get’em boy.

  • Said November 26, 2013

    correction Maybe the dictator desperate major,

  • Dawit Meconen November 26, 2013

    The Impostor, Isaias Afewerqi, is attempting to reinvigorate his tottered image by discrediting the Report of the Human Right Commissioner of the UN and our struggle on the back of the captive football players.

    He shall not succeed. Every creative effort must be exerted by all patriotic Eritreans, including those in Kenya and neighboring countries, to secure their release, and to preempt his wicked endeavor.

    We must not worry too much on the alleged Kenyan security staff tough talk with regard to the possibilities of escape of the kids. I assure you that is a pure bluff for diplomatic consumption. The truth of the matter is the Kenyan officials have a lot of grudges against him and would do anything to expedite his downfall, including turning their eyes away as his captive run away.

    But again, who doesn’t hold grudges against this bastard? The Western world, including the USA , Europeans, who have good diplomatic relation with Kenya are happy to see him die in the agony of defeat, and therefore, would happily lend us their offices in our effort to release them.

    Dr. Tewelde too may cash in his newly gained fame on the diplomatic front by calling the office of Kenya, the USA and Europeans to seek their cooperation in the release of these kids from their captivity.

    • Tamrat Tamrat November 27, 2013

      Who the hell are you? you oppose the opposition, the position, the tplf, ethiopians, eiritreans, afars? What it the deal With you? Are you on staff?

  • Mussie Girmay November 26, 2013

    ኣብ ዝሓለፈ ሰንበት ኣብ ስያትል ብወዲ ባካሮን ደለይቲ ፍትሕን ዓቢ ህዝባዊ ወኒ አርትራዊ ዘበራብር ተካይዱ ኣብኡ ተሳቲፈ ዝተሰመዓኒ ሓጎስ መዓቀኒ የብሉን ኣብ ኤርትረዊ ወብሳይት ግን ክቃላሕ ኣይረኣኩን፡፡ስያትል ሓንቲ ካብተን ተረርቲ ልቢ ዝዕንድሩላ ከተማ እያ ኤርትራዉያን ደቂ ስያትል ልዕሊ 700 ዝኮኑ ተኣኪቦም ሓድነቶም ደጊሞም ኣረጋጊጾም ምእካብ ጥራይ ዘይኮነ ነዞም ተረርቲ ልቢ ህዝብና ደም ዘንብዕዎ ካባጸሊም ካብ ሕፍረት እነልብሶም እዋኑ እዩ፡፡