Senegal president promises players $55K for African Cup win
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Senegal President Macky Sall promised his country’s soccer players bonuses of about $55,000 each if they win their first African Cup title next month.
Sall also promised the squad other undisclosed bonuses for winning games at the tournament in Equatorial Guinea, which starts Jan. 17.
Senegal is one of only three African nations to make the World Cup quarterfinals but has never won the continental championship, losing in a penalty shootout to Cameroon in the 2002 final in its best result.
Bonuses promised to players will come under scrutiny at the African Cup after three teams — Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria — had their World Cup campaigns in Brazil last year marred by embarrassing disputes between players and officials over payments.
“We will do our best to get good results,” Senegal goalkeeper and captain Bouna Coundoul said after receiving a Senegalese flag from Sall at a ceremony late Tuesday in Dakar.
Senegal’s squad under French coach Alain Giresse will travel to Morocco for a final training camp and warm-up games against Gabon and Guinea.
After failing to qualify in 2013, Senegal faces a tough task at this year’s African Cup of Nations after being grouped with top-ranked African team Algeria, Ghana and South Africa — all former champions. That group is considered by far the most difficult in the 16-team tournament.
Senegal also may be without midfielder Sadio Mane, who was shortlisted for the African footballer of the year award, because of a leg injury. Mane’s English club, Southampton, says he can’t play at the African Cup, although Giresse says he wants the player examined by Senegal team doctors.
Senegal’s first African Cup game is against Ghana on Jan. 19.