Uganda and Zimbabwe finally clear money hurdles on route to AFCON in Gabon

By Samindra Kunti

January 10 – Zimbabwe and Uganda have both faced financial problems that at one point looked to threaten their participation of the African Cup of Nations, but the two countries are now set to play at the tournament in Gabon.

An impasse between Zimbabwe’s players and the Zimbabwean FA (ZIFA) seemed to derail the preparations of The Warriors for the finals.

The players and ZIFA were at loggerheads over daily allowances and matches bonuses. The former wanted an appearance fee of $5,000 per player for each match at AFCON, and $400 in foreign daily allowances, according to local media. The two parties have now signed an agreement that means they will play. The players are also pressing for a $6,000 win bonus.

Last Friday the situation came to a head on when the team snubbed a farewell dinner organised by the government, in which Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa was the guest of honour.

“Obviously we are going to play, but it’s a matter of discussing, as we deserve better,” said Warriors captain Willard Katsande to Star FM Zimbabwe. “We’re not asking for much, we know what want as a team, we submitted our proposal long back but nobody listened to us.”

Zimbabwe return to the African Cup of Nations following a decade’s absence, last participating in 2006. They are drawn in the tournament’s group of death with Algeria, Tunisia and Senegal and begin their campaign against the Algerians on 15 January 15 in Franceville.

Uganda, who qualified for the Nations Cup after 39 years of waiting, have also faced financial problems, but the government stepped in to release the necessary funds for the campaign of The Cranes.  The government has donated $540,716, a sum that still falls short of the request by the Ugandan FA (FUFA), but will enable them to take their place at the finals.

“We are happy that although the money has taken a while to come out, it has finally come and it will handle several aspects including allowances for the team in Gabon,” said Uganda’s State Minister for Sport, Charles Bakkabulindi to BBC Sport.

Last month the Ugandan FA had already indicated that it required financial assistance, with the head of Finance, Decolas Kiiza, saying they needed quick government intervention. FUFA had to borrow funds to send the team to their training camp in Tunisia and now in the United Arab Emirates.

The Cranes will their start their campaign against Ghana on January 17. The other teams in group D are Mali and Egypt.

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