Windfall for Warriors
• Players could get more than $100 000 each if they win AFCON
Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor—
ZIMBABWE’S Warriors could pocket more than $100 000 each — about $32 000 more than what their counterparts across the Zambezi pocketed for winning the 2012 Nations Cup finals — if they can emulate Chipolopolo in writing another Gabonese fairytale by capturing the AFCON title.
The Warriors are Southern Africa’s only flagbearers at the 2017 Nations Cup finals after they ended more than 10 years of waiting to secure their ticket at Africa’s biggest football festival by dominating their group, which they won with a game to spare, finishing three points ahead of the chasing pack.
Traditional regional football heavyweights, Zambia and South Africa, who have won the Nations Cup in the past, were swept away by the tide in the qualification battles with Chipolopolo being beaten to a place in Gabon by continental lightweights Guinea Bissau who are making their first appearance at the AFCON finals.
The Zambians emerged as the surprise winners of the Nations Cup title when the final was last played in the Gabonese capital Libreville in 2012 with Chipolopolo defying the odds to beat favourites Cote d’Ivoire after a penalty shoot-out.
That the Zambians’ greatest sporting triumph came in the city which, until then, had represented the ultimate tragedy when a chartered military plane carrying the national team to a World Cup qualifier in Senegal came down, shortly after take-off in Libreville, killing everyone on board, provided a fitting, if not ironic, ending to the tournament.
Five years later, the Warriors will arrive in Gabon flying the Southern African flag and hoping to write another fairytale with coach Callisto Pasuwa saying he is targeting, at least, a place in the quarter-finals despite the fact that they are in arguably the toughest group with Senegal, Tunisia and Algeria providing the opposition.
The Zambians received $9 500 each from the $1.5 million that they got from CAF, for winning the 2012 Nations Cup title, while the government added a further $60 000 to every member of that triumphant side which brought their winning purse to $69 500 per each member of the team.
The Warriors, though, could earn far more than that should they also go all the way and become champions of Africa for the first time in their history when the 2017 Nations Cup finals end next month.
The team arrived in Cameroon yesterday, the final leg of their preparations, after finally having left home on Sunday.
They are scheduled to play the Indomitable Lions in a friendly international in Yaounde tonight as part of their preparations for the 2017 Nations Cup finals.
The Warriors’ preparations, though, were blighted by a spectacular fallout between the team and ZIFA over appearance fees and winning bonuses which led to the players boycotting a send-off ceremony that had been organised by the Ministry of Sport and Recreation on Friday night.
However, on Saturday, the two parties thrashed out an agreement which has since been signed which will see the Warriors getting $400 each, as allowances, every day they are on this tour of duty, a further $5 000 as appearance fees for each group game they will play in Gabon and a $6 000 winning bonus for the group matches.
The Warriors will also get 40 percent of what ZIFA earn from the tournament while the Association will take 60 percent of the proceeds.
However, in the event the Warriors qualify from their group, their appearance fee of $5 000 per game will rise by a further $2 000, for the quarter-finals, meaning they will get $7 000 while the winning bonus will also rise by a further $2 000, which means they will get $8 000 each as a winning bonus for that quarter-final tie. Should the Warriors make it to the semi-finals, the appearance fee for that game will rise by another $2 000, which means they will get $9 000 for winning that match, while the winning bonus will also rise by a further $2 0000 to make it $10 000 for each member of the team.
In the event they make the final, they appearance fee will also rise by a further $2 000, making it $11 000 for each member of the team, while the winning bonus will also rise by an additional $2 000 to $12 000 per each member of the team. The daily allowance will remain at $400 per day and given they will have stayed the entire duration of the tournament, it will bring the possible earnings, for each member of the team, to $101 500 for this tour on duty should they return home as a triumphant group of Warriors.
Zimbabwe’s swimming icon, Kirsty Coventry, was given a $100 000 cash present by President Mugabe when she set the Olympic Games alight in Beijing in 2008 by smashing the 200 metre backstroke, on the way to a gold medal, and also winning three silver medals.
The Government unveiled a $1 million package for the Warriors for the 2017 Nations Cup finals while the Ugandan government, whose national team are making their first appearance at the AFCON finals since 1978, have unveiled a $540 716 for the Cranes.
The country’s football authorities had requested $2 million for the tournament but the government ended up giving them a quarter of what they had wanted.
The Cranes were named the Team of the Year by CAF at the organisation’s awards ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria, last week.
“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,” Uganda’s State Minister for Sport, Charles Bakkabulindi, told the BBC.
It has also emerged that Bafana Bafana get $100 daily allowance, when away from home on such similar national duty, while they get R500 daily allowance when they are at home. England’s players get 1 000 pounds, in daily allowances, when they are on national duty but that doesn’t count for much given the majority of them are millionaires.
Meanwhile, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane believes the Warriors could spring a big surprise in Gabon.
“I told Khama that with Sundowns, we too were never given a chance in our group, but we did it,” Mosimane, who was named the CAF Coach of the Year, told The Sowetan newspaper.
“Zimbabwe can progress even as they are grouped with tough teams like Algeria, Tunisia and Senegal.
“These teams can easily cancel out each other. You just have to avoid being whipping boys.”
He also spoke about the pressure that his ‘keeper Dennis Onyango, who was named the CAF best player plying his trade in Africa for 2016, will be under in Gabon. “Onyango will be under the most pressure because of the big award he’s just won,” Mosimane said.
“I told him he needs a bit of a rest, and I think when he’s fresh, he’ll be on top form.”