Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Subversive campaign by anti-Eritrea sectors: The defection of members of the Eritrean national soccer team in Botswana.

     Before we get upset and before we try to analyze and re-analyze why some players on the ERITREA national team that traveled to Botswana decided to remain and ask for political asylum, let us take a deep breath and not get caught up with the enemy tactics to DEFAME ERITREA! through sports for purely a political reason. Let us look at the facts. Eritrea was back to FIFA international play for the first time in almost 4 years. Ranked at number 202 as a result of past defections, in a two week span of time utilizing Eritrean players from overseas the team competed well.

Meanwhile, cycling & running victories and accolades have spiraled the sports fever in Eritrea in recent weeks. There is no doubt that Eritrean athletics is on a HIGH now. While many good things were happening and we also witnessed one of the biggest crowds ever at Asmara stadium last weekend, somebody had to spoil the party.

Enter a group known as ERITREAN MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRACY & HUMAN RIGHTS (EMDHR) who have been waiting to capitalize on a situation similar to this. What made it even better for them was the fact that this game was right in their backyard not too far away from South Africa where they are based out of Pretoria. While 24 members of the 34 delegation returned back some who make their homes outside of Eritrea, the 10 players urged by the network of 
organizations have decided to remain in Botswana. 

According to a prominent lawyer from Botswana who usually engages in litigation's against Govt. officials by the name of Dick Bayford, "I have been engaged by the movement to assist in keeping the football players in the country after they received reports that there was an attempt to forcibly remove the players from Botswana," The so called opposition Human rights organization created in South Africa and wanting change in Eritrea seem to think that because 10 players defected the country is in uproar and we have serious problems. However they don't know Eritrea. What makes it even worse is that the lies such lawyers who claim to be human rights lawyers say to make money. He will get his share from the criminals. 

Bayford's audacity to claim that the EMDHR was worried that the players, who are said to be part of the Eritrean army, are likely to be charged with desertion if they are sent back to Eritrea, which is punishable by death. Pure fabrication but strong evidence for Mr. Lawyer!

Defections are not new. Even as recent as this past summer members of the Cuban national soccer team had defected to the USA during the Gold Cup Tournament. Only difference is that these athletes know automatically they will be granted asylum as the USA allows Cuban athletes to defect because the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” US policy is still in effect. The rule stipulates that a Cuban who sets foot on US soil is allowed to stay.

As you can see on the picture below the nucleus of the team is still there along with many other players. To those that defected the sad part of it is that you are using the Eritrean national team to send a political agenda that allows failed organizations like the EMDHR to gain propaganda points.

Meanwhile I am of the belief that players from all parts of the country should be chosen for the national team. The top teams in Eritrea's premier league had a nucleus of the local players on this team but the ENFF must do everything it can to choose players who care about representing their FLAG! Just like Henok and the other players playing outside of ERITREA the passion for the game and the responsibility to represent ERITREA should always be there.

Good Luck to the national team in the future. We will build our program together as a nation. A clear indication was on Saturday when thousands and thousands of fans showed that no matter what ERITREA will always shine in sports.

For Eri-international sports.

Mike Seium

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Observation: 1st game between Eritrea vs Botswana for Russia 2018 World Cup.

Observations: The Red Sea Boyz "Camels" ..........(1st game for Russia 2018)

So all of a sudden we have thousands and thousands of people packing the stadium at Chichero in Asmara to see a team that was quickly assembled to make up Eritrea's national team that took on Botswana for the 2018 World cup qualifying round. Before the game we saw fans and dignitaries on ERI-TV's Live coverage(will get back to that later) and the feeling was one of joy and happiness as Eritrea starts its journey in what I believe will be a great future for the Red Sea Boyz. In order to understand the process in which this year's team was assembled most of us already know the story of our recent past.

For almost 4 years now Eritrea did not participate in any world cup or any other international, continental or even regional events much if not at all. Former player turned coach Negash Teklit did what most people would have had a tough time doing as he continued to build a team after each defection that tarnished the image of the nation. Even the local league in Eritrea started to decline in terms of competition as well as attracting fans. A politically motivated vendetta against Eritrea reached in the social fabric of its society which was meant to help create problems within the country. It failed even though it may have affected the soccer program negatively. However, Eritrea always comes back stronger and with a new coach a very humble Almeseged Ephrem who once represented Eritrea's national team the quality of play was not bad at all. Here are some points I have taken from observing the game and the team through TV.

Game analysis: Eri-International sports

1. Great fans in Asmara along with dignitaries and the average public. Flags everywhere and it seemed like a very nice atmosphere.

2. Great looking uniforms. Hope to see them in different colors as well. I am talking about the blue colors with the Eritrean flag stripes on the side. You can do this with the three other colors as well.

3. Great teamwork considering these guys were put together in a short time. Henok Goitom did well and adjusted to the team. His near miss early in the game may have changed the outcome of the game. He took on the leadership role very well. He has been picked as a captain ahead of the game.

4. Middle defense was a bit weak as coach Alemseged said in an interview with ERI-TV last week. However I commend Senai Berhane from Sweden for filling the gap and doing a decent job. Goal Keeper Isaias Hailegergish was very active and seemed ready despite the two goals he gave up. Impressive play from a very skillful midfielder Yonas Solomon (Saudi Arabia) who I thought did a good job along with Samyomi Alexander (Sudan) who showed some flashes of brilliance. Only thing I would like to share is "Avoid" the air balls as the Zebras seemed a bit bigger in size. Especially during corner kicks play low and try different attempts to get a shot out. Meanwhile on defense we must stay alert on corner kicks as they are a bit bigger in size.

5. Never underestimate your opponents and respect to both coaches as they played within their capabilities and provided the fans great sportsmanship. Hope it will continue in Francistown Botswana on Tuesday win or lose. If Eritrea wins by two goals it has a good chance to advance. May be the new facilities in Francistown can work in favor of Eritrea. We hope The Botswana authorities will control their fans.

Other than that, I would like to really commend Eritrean Television for broadcasting the game live and doing an outstanding job at that. Play by play could be a bit better even though Kibreab(sports anchor & host) did all his best. Coach Peter Butler an englishman seems like a very humble person with a wealth of experience and it seems to benefit the Zebras a lot.

Over all the great work that is being done with the sports commision and the ENFF should serve as a classic example of what can be done when Eritreans from all over the world contribute towards the success of our nation. Win or lose Eritrea was a winner yesterday. No media coverage from the west even though the LEADING SCORER in the Swedish League made his first appearance for his parents homeland even though he was born in Sweden.

Game time on Tuesday October 13th, 2015 as Botswana takes on Eritrea in  the second game of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2018 Russia match.

Venue: Francistown New Stadium
Kick-off: 7pm

Eri-International sports will let you know if the game will be televised live. Stay tuned and remember win or lose TEAM ERITREA is a winner.

Mike Seium
Eri-International sport.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Team ERITREA: The RED SEA Boyz are back!

     In 1996 the Eritrean soccer federation officially was founded even though Eritrea had been playing in games against other nations since 1992. Like everything else in Eritrea the development of a world popular sport once hailed as Eritrea's national past time seems to have seen its ups and downs over the past 24 years. While the long tradition of the game dating back since the early part of the 1900's has seen some incredible results like the 1962 African nations cup where 9 Eritrean players helped Ethiopia win the cup of nations, this article will focus more on the recent history of the team.

As we speak Eritrea ranks at 202 in the FIFA rankings where every activity you are involved in as a team is considered when being ranked. Because Eritrea has not played a game at the national team level for almost 2 years, its ranking has been very low where countries like South Sudan, Palestine and even Syria and others are above Eritrea in the ranking orders.

Hold your horses? Is that disappointing? No, not at all. As a matter of fact the positive thing that will come out of this weekend's game between Eritrea and Botswana is that Eritrea is the under dog playing against the 111 team in the world. Its chances of winning is high as Eritrea's home record has always been pretty good. Meanwhile add to that the addition of some international players including probably one of the top soccer players to ever be associated with Eritrea, the one and only Henok Goitom.

Eri-International sports has been covering Eritrea related soccer news including the national team, as well as players of Eritrean origin and more for a long time now. It is truly a great moment for the blogger no matter what the outcome is to see the national team back again. It was a suggestion that was written in December of 2012 after the last defection of Team Eritrea players. On the blog I wrote,

Meanwhile I do hope that just like the cycling and running programs in Eritrea, the national soccer team will get better. Why not allow a couple of our Eritrean international stars play for the national team alongside players from the smaller rural towns and cities who will take the sport a lot more seriously, therefore making it difficult for the city slickers and the spoiled young men of Asmara to make the team. Just a suggestion!"

While I may have been harsh about the city slickers & spoiled young men, out of frustration as a fan, I am so proud to see the ENFF (Eritrean National Football Federation) bring to fruation an idea that most of us in the diaspora have been talking about. Thank god we have enough players now for many more years and just like cycling and running this sport that requires more unity seems to be headed in the right direction.

We don't need to say much about Henok Goitom as everyone knows what he is capable of. For some of you here in the USA who may not have known his Swedish Team AIK had come to the USA a year and half ago to play the Portland Timbers of the MLS in a pre-season game where Henok was able to score for his team in a 1-1 tie from an incredible angle. Here are the highlights and you can see Henok's incredible goal at the 45 second mark.

Meanwhile Gol Gol Meberhatu we are being told is in Eritrea and will be missing his first league game of the season with his new team the Western Sydney Wanderers where he scored a dynamic goal a few weeks ago to lead his team in the Australian FFA cup after coming back from an injury.
Here is a link to his story where the game took place in August. The actual season of the A-League starts this weekend.

According to reliable sources the team seems to have every position filled with talented players. Coach Alemseged Ephrem who was a member of the the 1994 squad along with the previous coach Negash Teklit and others seems to know what he is doing. He has had regional and international experience and we should all be proud that he is a home grown coach who came from within the national team system.

Some of the players he is banking on with the exception of the foreign based players from Europe, Australia and Saudi Arabia are Mussie Negasi and Fitsum Hailemichael (nicknamed Baggio for former Italian star Roberto Baggio). Sudan based Samyioma Alexander and Robel Kidane should also bring with them a wealth of experience. The midfield, the left and right full back are solid and the offense is just amazing and packed from both local and international selections. We hope our middle defense will sort itself out. Add to that the 12th person (FANS) expected to be there in big numbers, Botswana will not have anything on ERITREA. Also from Asmara we are being told that Botswana team had closed door sessions where they did not allow any media to attend. according to some sources

By the way despite all the negative stories we heard about the national team in recent years it was just in August 2007 that ERITREA had it's highest FIFA ranking ever at number 121 which is not too shabby considering the country was only 16 years old at the time. Eritrea has had some success in the past and that will never be taken away from the RED SEA Boyz as the tradition continues.

Good luck to the Red Sea boyz against The Zebra's of Botswana. Based on some research we have done Botswana should not be a huge threat but recently have seen some success against Burkina Faso in a 1-0 victory in early September but only to lose to Ethiopia 3-2 in a friendly game two weeks ago. Their international players consist of players playing in South Africa's league and they have one player playing in the newly created INDIA yes INDIA super league where big money is being spent to lure good players in an effort to help build soccer in India.

Just a couple of pointers for those of you who will follow the game. So far we don't have any concrete evidence that the game is being transmitted live. Please don't pay attention to some of the soccer score websites who claim the game is on Live. Unless ERI-TV announces it officially we don't know. They have in the past transmitted it and we hope they can get it done again. If not even on a delay basis we can wait to see a GREAT WIN! Meanwhile Dimitsi Hafash will have the game live on radio so TUNE in to the great DIMTSI HAFASH to follow the game if not on ERI-TV. We also expect to see our great Journalists Amanuel Alazar and Kibrom from Eri-TV sports to keep us posted.

Good luck to our boys and hoping that soccer will be back strong in ERITREA!

For Eri-International sport.

Mike Seium

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH NY Giants Eritrean American NFL player Nat Berhe.

     Most of us recall when the issue of whether Nat Berhe was Eritrean or not became a topic on Twitter last year after Nat Berhe was drafted by the NFL's NY Giants. Eri-International sports caught up with Nat recently while he recovers from a very painful calf injury while he was vying for the starting safety position for the NY Giants.

A little bit about Nat Berhe. Berhe was born in Fontana, California and attended Colton High School. His mother Judy is an African American; his father Berhe Asfaha emigrated from Eritrea in 1970. Nat played four years of varsity football as a defensive back and running back and also lettered twice in track and field. He was also a member of the honor society.

Nat attended San Diego State University where he excelled as a defensive player. It is to be recalled that Eri-international sport had also featured another Eritrean football player who played at San Diego State in the early 2000's. After being drafted last year by the NFL's New York Giants he had a pretty decent rookie year where he got high praise from the coaching staff. He was injured and had been recovering as the injury on his calf did not recover fully before this season.

In his rookie season last year he recorded decent numbers. As a rookie in 2014, Berhe played in all 16 games, primarily on special teams…Finished the season with 8 special teams tackles (5 solo) and a fumble recovery on special teams and 4 tackles (3 solo) as a reserve safety on defense…Made his NFL debut at Detroit (9/8) and had 1 tackle on defense and 1 on special teams…Had a season-high 2 tackles (1 solo) at safety vs. Houston (9/21)…Recorded 2 special teams tackles at Jacksonville (11/30)…Played safety and had 1 tackle and 1 special teams tackle at Tennessee (12/7)…Contributed 2 special teams tackles and a fumble recovery at St. Louis (12/21). (Courtesy of the NY GIANTS)

 So while recovering and helping his team he was tweeting away last week and sharing the cycling fever to some of his friends on twitter while enjoying the race. 

Meanwhile Eri-international sports was able to catch up with him for a short question and answer session during a busy time for him while he is still on recovery and training mode. Here is the exclusive interview with Nat Berhe of the NY Giants.

Nat Berhe first Eritrean NFL player interview with Eri-International sports

1. Thank you Nat for allowing us time from your busy schedule. How does it feel to be in the NFL and represent Eritrea?  

It's a blessing, I've heard from so many other Eritrean kids that tell me they want to play in the NFL one day. It's been a lot of mutual love and I'm humbled to serve as an inspiration to them.

2. You are in your prime and your calf injury got in the way of you playing this year, but chances are that you will be back and contributing to the Giants. How has the injury affected you? 

I wanted more than anything to help my team win games and contribute to help us win super bowl 50 but God had other plans for this season. I'm already back running and training, but because I was placed on injured reserve my season is over. Nevertheless, I'm in meetings and focused on how I can help the giants win next year.

3. You recently tweeted about the Eritrean national Cycling team, which participated in the UCI Road Championships, and you saw the Eritrean fans all over. How did that make you feel?  

The tweet popped up on my timeline so I watched it and thought it was a great moment, a moment worth sharing. The support was outstanding.

4. What are your plans in the future to visit Eritrea? 

When I get healthy and the time is right I definitely want to visit.

5. Anything else you would like to add?

Thanks for taking the time to ask these questions.

For Eri-international sports.
Mike Seium