Eritrean players and coach missing in Kenya

Eritrea in action against Uganda during the Cecafa Cup

Nine members of the Eritrea national football team and the coach of the squad have disappeared in Kenya following a regional football tournament.

After Eritrea were eliminated from the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup, which was won by Kenya last weekend, the 12 men disappeared.

Cecafa general secretary Nicholas Musonye told Reuters: "The players and the coach have absconded."

It is not the first time players from the national squad have defected abroad.

Last December, 17 players and the team doctor claimed asylum in Uganda, 18 months after 13 players from an Eritrean club side sought refuge in Tanzania.

And in 2009, a dozen members of the national team disappeared in Kenya.

"We will discuss this issue of Eritrean players absconding in the next general assembly meeting to get solution on this matter," Musonye said.

"We don't want to have problems in future. This is becoming chronic to the association."

Last year, the United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay accused the Asmara government of meting out summary executions, torture and detaining thousands of political prisoners.

Thousands of Eritreans try to escape from the Red Sea state every year and many die making perilous sea-crossings in a desperate bid to reach Europe.