Basketball

Eritrean team vanishes, Cranes face Ethiopia

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The Eritrean team shortly before they played Rwanda on Saturday. Virtually the entire team went missing on Sunday.

The Eritrean team shortly before they played Rwanda on Saturday. Virtually the entire team went missing on Sunday. photo by Eddie Chicco. 

By Andrew Mwanguhya & Abdu Wasike

Posted  Tuesday, December 4  2012 at  02:00

In Summary

Cranes coach attacks ‘crazy’ quarterfinal format that has Uganda facing Ethiopia for the second time in seven days today.

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Kampala.

Fufa officials and police have launched a search for Eritrea’s national football team after virtually the entire side disappeared on Sunday.

Eritrea were knocked out of the on-going Cecafa competition on Saturday and were supposed to return back home today according to their flight schedule. Of the squad of 19 players, 16 went missing and none had reported back to the hotel by press time yesterday.

A source at Sky Hotel in Naalya, where the team has been residing, confirmed to Daily Monitor that the team and some officials went shopping on Sunday in the city centre. Many did not return. It has become a norm for Eritrean players not to return home after tournaments. Four players of Red Sea FC defected after a Caf Champions League match in Nairobi twelve years ago.

And at the 2007 Cecafa tournament in Tanzania, 12 members of the national side vanished.
The same happened at the 2009 Cecafa in Kenya where the Eritrean team failed to make it back home. Only the coach made it to Asmara.

Fufa spokesman Rogers Mulindwa says the federation have now involved authorities to handle the case. “We have sent copies of the player’s passports to the immigrations department office and Police is already involved in the investigation,” Mulindwa explained.

Meanwhile the football proper continued yesterday with Tanzania beating Rwanda 2-0 to reach the semis. At Namboole today, Uganda will face Ethiopia in the quarterfinals; the second time in a week the two having met in the group stages last Tuesday. Cranes carried the day 1-0.

And Cranes coach, Bobby Williamson, hardly understands the organisers’ thinking behind the ‘crazy’ draws that placed the Antelopes in Uganda’s way to retaining the title.

The Scot is not a fan of second meetings. “Sure,” admitted Bobby,” It’s always dangerous because they know us. They know how we play. But to be fair we know how they play also. “But I don’t know why we should be having the quarterfinals. I think there should be four teams that should go through to the semifinals.

“The top three of the groups (group winners) and the best placed loser. That should be enough. Six games is asking a lot of these guys in two weeks. I think five is (already) plenty, plus you would have a scenario of playing the same team again.” By finishing top of group A, the Cranes would play the second of the two best third-placed teams from the three groups. Zanzibar led the third-placed teams’ table followed by Ethiopia and Sudan.

A team plays six games in Nations Cup and seven in the World Cup if they go all the way to the final. Seyum Kabede, the Ethiopian coach, meanwhile never lost hope after they lost to Uganda, and he is now looking a more efficient performance.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com