Uganda September 15, 2009

Ugandans go missing after U-19 Qualifiers

Uganda’s sporting authorities have confirmed rumours that six of the Under-19 side which participated in the World Cup Qualifier in Toronto are unaccounted for

Uganda’s sporting authorities have confirmed rumours that six of the Under-19 side which participated in the World Cup Qualifier in Toronto are unaccounted for. The players were due to return home with the rest of the squad on Tuesday but it has emerged they have been missing for more than 72 hours.

Latimer Mukasa, speaking on behalf of the Ugandan board, said the six - Ahmed Yakub, the captain, Emmanuel Nakaana, Geoffrey Nyero, Moses Okwera, Andrew Ochan and Ahmad Sangau - were reported missing by the team’s manager on Saturday.

“We were informed that these players had run away,” Mukasa told Uganda’s New Vision newspaper. “[The manager] said the last he had seen them was on Friday night, around 11.30pm. When he woke up the following morning, the players were gone. At this moment, we don’t want to speculate about why they left. It could be all sorts of things - it is possible they (players) were up to some mischief and they’ll be found.”

However, despite Mukasa stating they “could turn up at any minute”, the revelation will draw parallels with the situation two years ago when two members of the Uganda side which had been competing in the World Cricket League in Australia absconded and subsequently claimed asylum. The pair have never returned home.

The Canadian authorities were criticised in some quarters after Sierra Leone were unable to participate in the Qualifers as a result of their team’s visa applications not being able to be processed in time. With hindsight, their caution appears to have been justified.

If it does turn out the six Uganda players have disappeared with the aim of avoiding returning home, they will have dealt a major blow to the dream of many young cricketers from developing countries to play abroad. Their actions can only increase the difficulties facing players from Associate and Affiliate countries in obtaining the necessary visas to enable them to participate in ICC events.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on September 20, 2009, 7:24 GMT

    The act is indeed a shameful one and the total nunmber of players missing is seven and not six

  • testli5504537 on September 17, 2009, 18:47 GMT

    Hello there, Great post, I just came across it and I am already a fan.

  • testli5504537 on September 16, 2009, 19:14 GMT

    This six players not only jeopardised their career but of hundred others who will now face additional hardships to play in well to do countries for example Sierra Leone were not even allowed to enter canada and this example will set an precedence to authorites to refuse visas..

    B TAYLOR fan...............

  • testli5504537 on September 16, 2009, 4:26 GMT

    I would recommend the Sri Lankan/Italian film "Machan" (2008 comedy) about a Sri Lankan sports team disappearing into Europe.

  • testli5504537 on September 15, 2009, 11:37 GMT

    What these players did is a very shameful act, IMO, the gov't should step in and resolve this by legal channels with Canadian gov't. Coming from a third world country I do realize the hardships and the urge to fly away to a better country, but this is not the way to do it, these players have gotten their country's reputation on line as well as the game's.

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