Kenya searches for 12 "missing" Eritrean players

13:09, December 16, 2009      

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By John Kwoba

The Kenya police said Tuesday 12 Eritrean national soccer players who disappeared after their team was bundled out of the Orange Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup are hiding in Eastleigh, east Nairobi.

The police said they have already launched an elaborate search to track down these players, but it will be a long shot for police to trace down their target in a residential estate full of illegal immigrants especially from Somalia.

Cecafa secretary Nicholas Musonye said he has handed all the names to the police and is not to blame for their disappearance.

The Eritreans were knocked out of the Cecafa competition for East and Central African nations last week. But when the team's plane landed back home, it was reportedly only carrying 10 players, a coach and an official.

However, Eritrea's Ambassador to Kenya Salih Omar said the number was exaggerated for political reasons in a bid to portray Asmara as an unstable place.

"We know who are behind this scam. It is pointless to name them, but I will tell them they will not succeed," Omar told journalists in Nairobi.

The ambassador extended an arm to the players to report to his embassy so he may help them secure the right documents.

"Nobody will force them back home. Maybe they need to taste life outside home to realize home is best. My government is doing everything possible to see that the needed infrastructure is available to support the youths. There is no point running away from home," said the ambassador.

The Eritrean government, according to Omar, will dig to the root cause and tackle the problem.

"Last year, we had another four disappearing. But the numbers are always blown up. They are trooping back home after realizing their mistakes. Those involved take advantage of the adventure and their young mind to confuse them," said Omar.

Musonye, who is helping the police with the search, remained skeptic that most of the players are hiding in the populous Eastleigh Estate.

"I am certain they are hiding in Eastleigh. We have so many Eritreans there. It is unfortunate, and puts Cecafa and Eritrea Football in ambiguous situation," Musonye said. "Eritrean FA did work extra hard to get them take part in the competition, unfortunately these boys had other ideas."

Many Eritreans live in Nairobi and it will be hard for the police to pin point the culprits.

Source: Xinhua
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