Two Ugandan national cricket team players have vanished in New Zealand and are reportedly seeking asylum.
According to a friend, they plan to travel to later Australia and join two other players who disappeared from a Ugandan cricket team which had gone to play in Australia in 2007.
AAP reports Raymond Otim and Faruk Ochimi, two of Uganda's "Cricket Cranes", disappeared after an ICC World Cup qualifying tournament concluded in late January.
"They had planned long before going to New Zealand that they would not return to Uganda, but instead they will disappear from the rest of the team and later travel to Australia and join Ugandans playing cricket there," said James Otim, a friend of the pair.
The Uganda Cricket Association website cites the Sunday Monitor newspaper as reporting the pair sought asylum in Whakatane, which hosted the team for two tournament warm-up matches.
Uganda finished bottom in the tournament, losing all six matches heavily.
Some media in Uganda blamed the poor performance on the lack of commitment by the two players and teammate Richard Okia, who disappeared in Dubai as the team returned home, while they planned their disappearance from the rest of the team.
In 2009, seven of the Under-19 Uganda side at the World Cup qualifiers disappeared in Canada where they had gone to play.