Thursday Oct 03, 2019. 13:00
Five players from the Eritrea side competing in the regional CECAFA Under-20 Challenge Cup have reportedly absconded from the team hotel in Jinja, Uganda, and are seeking asylum.
The quintet are goalkeeper Girmay Hanibal, Simon Asmelash, Deyben Gbtsawi Hintseab, Hermon Fessehaye Yohannes and Mewael Tesfai Yosief, according to the BBC.
Their coach claims their absence from training is because they are unwell, but reports suggest they have left the team hotel and cannot be located.
It is by no means an isolated incident as Eritrean players have taken the opportunity to flee abroad on a number of occasions.
In 2015, 10 players refused to return to Eritrea following a World Cup qualifier in Botswana, while two years earlier 15 players and the team doctor were granted asylum by Uganda after the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup that year.
And most alarmingly, the entire squad absconded after a tournament in Kenya in 2009, leaving only the coach and one other official to return home.