A record seventh appearance by coach Claude Le Roy at the Africa Cup of Nations was back on track on Friday amid disarray in the Democratic Republic of the Congo camp one day before the tournament was due to kick off.
While denying a Congolese TV station report that he had quit in protest at poor management of the squad, Le Roy revealed his fury at a chaotic build-up in an interview with French radio station RFI.
“I never announced I was resigning, but I was very bitter to see that all our work had been screwed up [by a crisis over unpaid bonuses],” the 64-year-old coach said. “It is mad, devastating to wreck a preparation like this, with such a lack of respect. They are talking of players as if they were children whereas they are adults.”
“They are competing here [in South Africa] even though it will cost some of them money. Those who play in big clubs lose their bonuses and risk losing their place in the team,” he said.
“These players compete here because they are proud to wear their country’s shirt — and we are not talking about bonuses worth hundreds of thousands of euros per player,” Le Roy said.
The Frenchman led Cameroon to the Cup of Nations title in 1988, the same country to second place two years earlier, and Ghana to third place at the 2008 finals. He has also coached DR Congo and Senegal at the tournament.
Payment rows are a perennial feature of Africa Cup tournaments as players, coaches and officials argue over match appearance fees, win and draw bonuses, and special payments for reaching certain stages of the competition.
Meanwhile, star defender Stoppila Sunzu was due return to training with Zambia yesterday after spending a week on trial at relegation-threatened English Premier League outfit Reading.