Thirteen members of Eritrean football club Red Sea defected in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on Monday, just a day after the conclusion of the Cecafa Kagame Cup.
The Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) secretary, Angetile Osiah told Daily Nation that 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 players. Osiah said that the Tanzania Immigration Department had also been informed about the issue and had launched a manhunt for the players whose named would not be released immediately.
"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 contingent comprised of 25 people and that the rest of the squad had left for Asmara.
This is not the first time Eritrean players have defected. At the 2009 Copa Coca-Cola U17 football tournament that preceded the Fifa Confederations Cup in South Africa, six players from the Ethiopian Copa team defected. But they later gave in to the South African authorities following tip-offs from relatives and team-mates.
Also in 2009, twelve players defected in Kenya when their national team participated in the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Nairobi.