Eritrea national football team

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Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) Red Sea Camels
(ኣግማል ቀይሕ ባሕሪ) [1]
Association Eritrean National Football Federation
Confederation CAF (Africa)
Sub-confederation CECAFA (East & Central Africa)
Head coach Alemseged Efrem
Captain Henok Goitom
Home stadium Cicero Stadium
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 206 Steady (20 September 2018)
Highest 121[2] (August 2007)
Lowest 207 (April–May 2018)
Elo ranking
Current 178 Increase 2 (10 September 2018)
First international
 Sudan 1–1 Eritrea Ethiopia
(Khartoum, Sudan; 26 June 1992)
Biggest win
 Eritrea 3–1 Somalia 
(Nairobi, Kenya; 5 December 2009)
Biggest defeat
 Ghana 5–0 Eritrea 
(Accra, Ghana; 28 February 1999)

The Eritrea national football team (Tigrinya: ጋንታ ኩዕሶ እግሪ አርትራ) is the national association football team of Eritrea and controlled by the Eritrean National Football Federation (ENFF). It is nicknamed the Red Sea Boys. It has neither qualified for the finals of the FIFA World Cup nor the Africa Cup of Nations. Local side Red Sea FC are the main supplier for the national team.


An Eritrean team was invited[by whom?] to a friendly tournament in Sudan in 1992, the year before Eritrea achieved independence.[3] Eritrea participated in the 1994 CECAFA Cup, organised by the Council for East and Central Africa Football Association,[3] even though the ENFF was not founded until 1996.[4] The first full international was in the 1999 CECAFA Cup,[3][5] the year after the ENFF joined the CAF[6] and FIFA.[4] They participated in the qualifying rounds of the 2000 African Cup of Nations and the 2002 World Cup, and subsequent editions until 2008.[3] They have also appeared intermittently in the CECAFA Cup.[3][7]

In the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, Eritrea managed a scoreless home draw versus Cameroon and a 1–0 home win over Mozambique. They finished second in their three team group, and advanced to a playoff round where they faced Senegal and Zimbabwe, but ultimately lost all four matches in that final stage.

In the first round of the qualifiers for the 2002 World Cup, they were drawn against Nigeria, and were defeated 4–0 in the away leg,[8] after a goalless draw at home.[9] The coach was Yilmaz Yuceturk.[8]

In the first round of the 2006 World Cup qualifiers, Sudan was Eritrea's first round opponent. Eritrea lost the first leg 3–0,[10] before another goalless draw in Asmara.[11] The coach was Eritrean Tekie Abraha.[10][11]

In group 6 of the qualifiers for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, under the guidance of Romanian Dorian Marin, Eritrea finished second behind Angola, failing to qualify for the final tournament. They beat Kenya twice and drew at home to Angola.

In the first round of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, Eritrea faced Rwanda. The first leg in Asmara ended in a 1–1 draw (and saw Eritrea's first ever goal in a World Cup qualification match), but Rwanda took the second leg by a score of 3–1.

Recent years have seen a high number of refugees leaving Eritrea,[12][13] and some athletes travelling to competitions abroad have taken the opportunity to abscond.[14] In December 2012, 17 Eritrean footballers and the team's doctor vanished after the CECAFA championship tournament in Uganda and all applied for asylum in the country.[15][16][17] Four players of Red Sea FC defected after a CAF Champions League 2006 match in Nairobi, Kenya,[18] and up to 12 members of the national side after the 2007 CECAFA Cup in Tanzania.[12][19] Another 6 players sought asylum in Angola in March 2007 after a group 6 qualifying game for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations.[20][21] Three more players from the national team sought asylum in Sudan.[22]

Eritrea withdrew from the 2008 CECAFA Cup,[23] and from the common qualifying tournament shared by the 2010 World Cup and the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations.[24] Given the number of players seeking asylum, the Eritrean government began requiring athletes to pay a 100,000 nakfa surety before traveling abroad.[18]

Eritrea returned to the 2009 CECAFA Cup in Nairobi. A young squad was assembled with just 12 days' training.[23] In Group B, they gained a surprise draw with Zimbabwe,[1] lost narrowly to Rwanda,[25] and beat Somalia 3–1.[26] They were easily beaten 4–0 in the quarter-finals by Tanzania.[23] Twelve squad members failed to report for the return flight, and sought the assistance of the Refugee Consortium of Kenya.[12][13] They were believed to be in hiding in Eastleigh, an eastern suburb of Nairobi home to many immigrants.[27] Nicholas Musonye, the secretary-general of CECAFA, feared that the government might react by refusing to let the team travel abroad in future.[13] The twelve players were later granted interim asylum by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Kenya.[28] Eleven of these players have since travelled to Adelaide in Australia[29] with two of them, Samuel Ghebrehiwet and Ambes Sium, signing for Gold Coast United in the A-League in August 2011.[30]

Nine players and the coach disappeared in Kenya in December 2013.[31]

In the first round of the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup, ten players from the Eritrean football team have refused to return home after playing a World Cup qualifying match in Botswana and have been granted asylum there, officials say.[32]

Competition records[edit]

Current squad[edit]

The following players were called up for the team in September 2015.

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK Fenasi Kerim 0 0 Eritrea Red Sea
22 1GK Minasie Solomon 0 0 Eritrea Adulis
23 1GK Sium Bokretsen 0 0 Eritrea Denden

5 2DF Senai Berhane 2 0 Sweden Sundbybergs IK

8 3MF Samyomi Alexander 2 0
13 3MF Amir Hassan Idris 0 0 England Pontefract Collieries
7 3MF Yonas Solomon 2 0
18 3MF La'el Daniel (1997-09-12) 12 September 1997 (age 21) 0 0
31 3MF Sammy “Eriboy” Tekle (1998-05-17) 17 May 1998 (age 20) 0 0

10 4FW Henok Goitom (1984-09-22) 22 September 1984 (age 34) 2 1 Sweden AIK
19 4FW Mussie Negassi 0 0 Eritrea Red Sea
11 4FW Sirak Beyene (1996-10-20) 20 October 1996 (age 22) 5 0 England London Tigers
15 4FW Semir Idris 0 0 England Pontefract Collieries

List of coaches[edit]


  1. ^ a b Pilipili, Oscar (12 December 2009). "Zimbabwe held 0–0 by Eritrea". The Standard. Nairobi. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  2. ^ "FIFA World Ranking". FIFA. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e Courtney, Barrie (31 January 2008). "Eritrea International Matches". RSSSF. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Eritrea on". FIFA. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  5. ^ "Eritrea Matches From 01.01.1872 To 30.11.2010". FIFA. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  6. ^ "Eritrean National Football Federation (ENFF)". CAF. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  7. ^ Stokkermans, Karel (11 December 2009). "East and Central African Championship (CECAFA)". RSSSF. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  8. ^ a b "First stage: Nigeria – Eritrea 4:0 (2:0)". 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan Preliminaries. FIFA. Archived from the original on 12 December 2009. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
  9. ^ "First stage: Eritrea – Nigeria 0:0". 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan Preliminaries. FIFA. Archived from the original on 12 October 2009. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
  10. ^ a b "Play-off: Sudan – Eritrea 3:0 (0:0)". 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany Preliminaries. FIFA. Archived from the original on 21 July 2010. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
  11. ^ a b "Play-off: Eritrea – Sudan 0:0". 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany Preliminaries. FIFA. Archived from the original on 21 July 2010. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
  12. ^ a b c Wyatt, Ben (15 December 2009). "Kenyan police search for missing footballers". London: CNN. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  13. ^ a b c Odula, Tom (15 December 2009). "12 Eritrea soccer players defect during tournament in Kenya; UN will hear case". Canadian Press. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  14. ^ Pflanz, Mike (15 December 2009). "Eritrean football team missing after match in Kenya". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  15. ^ Oryada, Andrew Jackson (5 December 2012). "Eritrean players seek asylum in Uganda". BBC. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  16. ^ Nakiyimba, Gloria (6 December 2012). "Eritrea's football team seek asylum in Uganda, citing persecution". RFI English. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  17. ^ Oryada, Andrew Jackson (4 December 2012). "Eritrea players missing in Uganda after regional championship". BBC. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  18. ^ a b "Eritrea players go missing in Kenya". AFP. 14 December 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  19. ^ "Official: Players say death awaits them in Eritrea". 16 December 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2009.[dead link]
  20. ^ "Eritrean footballers join row of asylum seekers". 27 March 2007. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  21. ^ "Angola considers asylum claims". BBC. 28 March 2007. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  22. ^ "Three Eritrean Players Seek Asylum in Sudan". Sudan Vision. 25 November 2009. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2009.
  23. ^ a b c Wandera, Gilbert (9 December 2009). "Tanzania hit Eritrea to make semi-final". The Standard. Nairobi. Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  24. ^ "Eritrea withdraw from qualifiers". FIFA. 25 March 2008. Archived from the original on 1 April 2008. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  25. ^ Toskin, Robin (4 December 2009). "Eritrean goalkeeper's effort not good enough". The Standard. Nairobi. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  26. ^ "Eritrea crush Somalia as Rwanda pip Zims". The Standard. Nairobi. 6 December 2009. Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  27. ^ Xinhua (16 December 2009). "Kenya Searches for 12 "Missing" Eritrean Players". CRI. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  28. ^ Ombati, Cyrus (18 December 2009). "12 Eritrean footballers granted asylum". The Standard. Retrieved 18 December 2009.
  29. ^ " – Politics, Culture, Religion". Retrieved 2017-07-13.
  30. ^ Sportal Australia (26 August 2011). "Gold Coast Sign Refugee Pair". Australian FourFourTwo. Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  31. ^ "Eritrean players and coach missing in Kenya". BBC. 17 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  32. ^ "Eritrean football players seek asylum in Botswana". BBC News. 2015-10-15. Retrieved 2017-07-13.
  33. ^ "BBC SPORT | Football | African | Seychelles plan their assault". Retrieved 2017-07-13.
  34. ^ "HAFAKAN RUHU / Eritre futbolu, ne alaka? – PINAR ÖĞÜNÇ". Radikal (in Turkish). Retrieved 2017-07-13.
  35. ^ "Eritrea - Association Information -". Retrieved 2017-07-13.

External links[edit]