GABORONE, Botswana (AP) A group of 10 players from Eritrea's national soccer team have refused to go home and are seeking asylum in Botswana following a World Cup qualifier.

A lawyer representing the players will make an application to a court on Friday to try and prevent them being sent back. Their country is one of the most repressive nations in the world, according to human rights groups.

Eritrean athletes have previously used sports events to try and escape their homeland.

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In 2012, 17 Eritrean soccer players and a team doctor went missing during a tournament in Uganda and eventually applied for asylum. The entire team sought refugee status at the same tournament in 2009.

Eritrea was eliminated from 2018 World Cup qualifying by Botswana in this week's game.