CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Six players on the Ethiopian national soccer team have defected and asked the United States for political asylum, officials said Sunday.

A senior official of the Egyptian Soccer Federation said the six defected early Saturday.

An Ethiopian source said the players were at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, where they had request political asylum.

At the embassy, a spokesman refused to discuss the matter, saying ''visa applications ... are a matter of privacy.''

The sources all spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Egyptian official identified the six players as Tekare Zoweidy, Solomone Yohanes, Solomone Hela, Alemeseged Aenishe, Jetu Kebede and Bekele Eorhany.

He said they had played in a match Friday with the Egyptian national soccer team in the final eliminations of the African Nations Cup. The Egytian team won 6-1.