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Africa Cup of Nations

Troubled Africa Cup prep for minnows Zimbabwe

Harare (AFP) – Zimbabwe’s sports ministry stumped up $1 million emergency funding after player grievances over accommodation and training facilities threatened preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations, an official said Thursday.

The side was training at a private school outside the capital Harare because the financially hamstrung football association failed to pay a $60 fee to use the national sports stadium, local media reported

Players also refused to use accommodation at a facility run by the association as it was in poor condition.

“The issue was dealt with yesterday,” Zimbabwe Football Association chairman Phillip Chiyangwa told AFP.

“I found them money. There is more money for them than there was.”

He refused to reveal figures, but the state-owned Herald newspaper said the government had organised a million-dollar package for the team’s preparations for the tournament in Gabon starting this month.

Before the cash was announced, the footballers’ union and a mobile telephone operator had stepped in to pay for better accommodation and food until the team’s departure on Sunday.

Asked about the association’s failure to pay for training at the national sports stadium, Chiyangwa said: “I don’t know about that problem.”

He said locally based players had no qualms about the association’s accommodation and that problems started after their foreign-based counterparts joined them.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been wrecked by hyper-inflation, corruption and agricultural collapse, and the football team has often relied on well-wishers to pay its players and coaches.

A cash shortage in the country has also seen football match attendances plummet.

Last year the country was expelled from the 2018 World Cup preliminary competition over non-payment of a $67,000 debt to former coach Jose Claudinei Georgini.

Zimbabwe are outsiders in the tournament but hope to surprise with players like Belgium-based striker Knowledge Musona, the leading scorer at top-flight side KV Oostende, and South Africa-based Khama Billiat

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