Thirteen members of Eritrean football club Red Sea’s contingent defected in Dar es Salaam on Monday, hours after the conclusion of the Cecafa Kagame Castle Cup in which the team competed.
Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) secretary, Angetile Osiah, said the Eritreans had been booked to stay at the Lunch Time Hotel located at the Ubungo area of Dar es Salaam but went missing.
He said Red Sea’s head of delegation has informed the organisers about the disappearance of the 13.
Osiah said that the Tanzania Immigration Department has also been informed about the issue and has launched a manhunt for the players whose named would not be released immediately on Monday.
The TFF official termed the incident as “unfortunate.” “We have informed the immigration authorities about the matter, and we are sure that they will act. We are very sorry about that,” said Osiah.
He said the Eritrean team comprised 25 people and that the rest of the squad had left for Asmara.
The Cecafa Kagame Castle Cup ended on Sunday with home team Yanga defeating compatriots Simba 1-0 in the final.
Incidences of player defection during tournaments is nothing new.
At the 2009 Copa Coca-Cola under-17 football tournament that preceded the Fifa Confederation Cup in Pretoria, six players from the Ethiopian Copa team defected.
But they later gave in to the South African authorities following tip-offs from their relatives and team-mates.