Nelspruit — MALIAN captain Seydou Keita's star billing is well-deserved. He is not only the face of the Malian team, but the most influential and inspirational figure to the Malian citizens.
Despite the political anarchy back home, the two-time European Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup winner has always put his country first even if it meant taking personal sacrifices like paying his teammates bonuses yesterday.
"I, myself, actually told the (sports) minister that if we made it to the semifinals and that there was still disagreement over the bonuses, I would myself contribute to these bonuses," Keita told the media.
The China-based midfielder, however did not disclose how much of his personal fortune would be spent on bonuses but the figures are estimated at R316, 000 (sh95m) per player, similar to what Ghanaian players received for making the quarterfinals.
Nigeria were offered R270, 000 (sh81m) per player for making the quarterfinals but the figures would double en route to the final.
Considering the current economic crisis and the Confederation of African Football's (CAF) poor prize structure, it's only prudent that players such as Keita are applauded.
CAF has been criticized for undermining Africa's most prestigious showpiece with its paltry prize offers at stake for the winner, second, third and fourth runners-ups.
According to football411.com, the winner of the ongoing tournament will net $1.5m (sh3.9b) with the losing finalists netting $(sh2.6b). Third and fourth finishers receive $750,000 (sh1.9b) each.
Overall, CAF will spend $10m (sh26.6b) in prize money, much less than the $32m (85b) prize offer for the Uefa Champions League winner.
Orange Telecommunication Company is the official sponsor of the Nations Cup tournament.