Robson Sharuko in CAIRO, Egypt
THEY came on the same flight from Nigeria and, five days after an industrial action swept through the Warriors’ camp, the Super Eagles have followed suit today after boycotting the team’s media conference in Alexandria today over unpaid dues.
It’s just the latest ugly episode for a tournament that has already seen the defending champions, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, initially refusing to board their plane in Yaounde until their dues had been paid.
The Super Eagles hosted the Warriors in a friendly international in Nigeria with the West Africans taking care of the financial costs of that assignment.
They then extended a hand of brotherhood to the Warriors by getting them on their charter plane from Nigeria to this country.
The Warriors lost their opening game, against hosts Egypt, 0-1, just a day after players had threatened not to fulfill the match unless the US$9 000 payments, for each player, which they had been promised by ZIFA had reflected in their bank accounts.
The money eventually reflected on the morning of the match day with ZIFA officials claiming technical challenges at their bank, and not their failure to pay, was responsible for the late processing of the payments.
Today, it was the turn of the Super Eagles to go into protest mode and their coach Gernot Rohr was alone at their media briefing when he should have been accompanied by one of the captains.
The initial explanation was that the player who was supposed to represent the Super Eagles had fallen ill but it later emerged the players boycotted the event because of payment concerns.
A series of tweets by journalist Osasu Obayiuwana, considered the most influential football journalist in Nigeria and one of the biggest voices in African football, revealed problems had hit the Super Eagles camp.
‘’(Nigerian Super Eagles presser v Guinea in Alexandria, coach Gernot Rohr is here but we are told ‘the player had fallen ill on his way here’ according to CAF media man Collins Okinyo,’’ Obayiuwana first tweeted.
Later, he revealed the challenges.
‘’Now we know the REAL reason why the @NGSuperEagles head coach Gernot Rohr had an empty chair to his left, during the pre-match press conference for the Nigeria v Guinea game that was conducted by @CAF_Online ‘Media Expert’ Collins Okinyo of Kenya.
‘’The @NGSuperEagles players refused to attend the pre-match press conference for their next group game against Guinea. They say their bonuses for the 1-0 win over Burundi, which comes to $10k per player, is yet to be settled.
‘’But @PinnickAmaju (Nigerian Football Federation boss Amaju Pinnick) . . . just told me that they have the Naira value of the bonuses to pay, which the players have refused to accept, because the official conversion rate to USD is lower than the open market rate, which means the players will lose money.’’
The journalist said he had also heard from Nigerian Football Federation vice-president, Shehu Dikko who told him, money they were receiving will take care of the Super Eagles’ financial concerns at this tournament and, “we only have the Burundi win bonus outstanding, thankfully, part of the funds approved by President (Muhammadu Buhari) arrived today at the (Nigerian Central Bank) and is now in the process of being converted to USD..’’
It is believed the Super Eagles could earn US$95 000 each should they win the AFCON tournament.