8 February 2013

Uganda/Burkina Faso: Afcon - Sh199 Million for Each Nigerian Player

Johannesburg — Nigeria's star-studded side has a collection of players that are hardly short of cash. And yet that has not stopped the Nigerian Football Association (NFA) from splashing alarming hefty bonuses on the Super Eagles team.

Stephen Keshi's squad is on the brink of making history with just one victory separating them from their first Nations Cup title since 1994.

And if the incentive of overcoming West Africa rivals Burkina Faso in Sunday's final wasn't enough, NFA, team sponsors guinness and Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote have all dipped in to provide the team with extra motivation.

According to Nigerian journalists here, each player will pocket $30,000 (sh80m) if they can claim the Stallions scalps in Soweto.

That's just a fraction of the several bonuses the team has pocketed since qualifying for the tournament's knock-out stages.

Cash award unmatched

The two group matches against Zambia and Burkina Faso earned each player $5000 (sh13m).

But when the Super Eagles beat Ethiopia to qualify for the quarterfinals, each player received $30,000 (sh80m).

Nigeria's star players then got an additional bonus of $15,000 (sh40m) each after overcoming Ivory Coast to book a semi-final slot against Mali.

Each Super Eagles player was then rewarded with another 20,000 (sh53m) for the 4-1 triumph over the Malians.

In effect, each Nigerian player has so far pocketed $75,000 (sh199m) -- the highest any team has offered players in bonuses in the tournament.

This excludes the sh80m at stake for the final.

In 2010, each Nigerian player was paid $80,000 (sh213m) for finishing third in the tournament held in Angola.

The NFA with the help of potential sponsors, decided to offer hefty bonuses through the course of the tournament in an attempt to counter past experiences where monetary issues have often propped up in major tournaments and consequently undermined the country's title prospects.

A case in point was in France '98 World Cup where the Eagles collapsed to the Danish team after spending the previous night arguing over dollars.

But how do former Nigerian players look at the bonus project?

According to former Super Eagles coach Tunde Disu, the numerous cash offers were timely.

"The cash rewards are encouragsing. There won't be any distraction because they are professionals that earn more money at their clubs," Disu told Nigerian publication Punch.

Burkina Faso

On the contrary, Burkina Faso players have not had a similar privilege of riding on hefty bonuses -- not even after their historic win over Ghana in a semi-final on Wednesday night.

The Stallions came into the tournament on the back of a wretched recent Nations Cup record, having not won a game at the continental finals in 15 years.

Before the 2013 tournament, Burkina Faso had made five successive first round exits, including the humiliation at last year's edition of the continent's premier soccer event held in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. They lost all three of their group games.

Belgian coach Paul Put took over in March last year and assembled a team that's now admired as one of the most attractive to watch.

"I told the players before the tournament that we can reach the semi-finals. We analyzed our opponents and knew that if we had the right approach, we would achieve our goal," Put stated.

The Stallions 'goal' now is the title but they will have to achieve that without their star player Jonathan Pitroipa, who has controversially sent off against the Ghana side.

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