x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Confederations Cup: Nigeria players will play after bonus payments dispute is settled

Nigerian players essentially went on strike for several hours and the leverage ploy worked as the team will take a later flight and play in the Confederations Cup in Brazil.

Emmanuel Emenike and the rest of the Nigeria team will arrive in Brazil a little late but will still compete in the Confederations Cup after a brief dispute about money. Lefty Shivambu / Getty Images
Emmanuel Emenike and the rest of the Nigeria team will arrive in Brazil a little late but will still compete in the Confederations Cup after a brief dispute about money. Lefty Shivambu / Getty Images

Nigeria will fly to Brazil after all, calling off a threatened strike over bonus payments that could have crippled the Confederations Cup.

Nigeria's players had been promised $10,000 for each win in the tournament and $5,000 for draws but the local football association found itself short of cash and cut the awards in half at the last minute.

The conflict prompted Nigeria to cancel its planned flight to Brazil on Thursday.

"As I speak to you the matter has been resolved by the minister," Julius Ogunro, an aide to Nigeria sports minister Bolaji Abdullahi, told The Associated Press. "The minister has rallied round to get money to pay the team and we are looking for a way to send the money. The matter has been settled."

However, it appears Nigeria won't arrive until Saturday, two days before the African Cup of Nations winners open the tournament against Tahiti in Belo Horizonte.

"I spoke with the team manager and they will be on the plane on Saturday and at the Confederations Cup," FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said. "So the issue is solved."

If the issue hadn't been solved, it could have derailed a tournament that features just eight squads.

Nigeria is in Group B, which also features world and European champion Spain and Uruguay. Brazil, Japan, Italy and Mexico are in Group A.

The tournament is a major warm-up event for next year's World Cup in Brazil.

Nigeria drew 1-1 with Namibia in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday, meaning it still hasn't secured a spot in the 2014 tournament.

The Super Eagles also played out a 2-2 draw against Mexico in a friendly in the United States on May 31 and then played another World Cup qualifier in Kenya.

Nigeria at a glance

Fifa world ranking 31

Qualified as African champions

Best Confederations Cup result 4th place, 1995

Other major honours African champions: 1980, 1994, 2013; Runners-up:  1984, 1988, 1990, 2000

Coach Stephen Keshi

Prospects Nigeria played some good football to win the African Nations Cup in South Africa in February under inspirational coach Stephen Keshi, their former national-team captain.

They have a good blend of experienced players and some developing youngsters, but a busy World Cup qualifying campaign, which includes a match against Namibia on June 12, could leave them a little weary for the Confederations Cup. However tired or jet-lagged they may be, they should win their opening match against Tahiti in Belo Horizonte on June 17 before facing Uruguay and world champions Spain.

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