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Issue with Nigeria soccer player bonuses casts shadow over match

June 17, 2013

Nigeria is known for its strong presence in the field of world soccer. The country is currently ranked 31st in the overall FIFA rankings, and is 4th in the standings of its regional governing association, the Confederation of African Football. On June 17, Nigeria will play Tahiti in the first match of the Confederations Cup - a major stepping stone to the FIFA World Cup - in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and a win will likely have Nigerian spectators calling relatives to discuss the game, by using an international calling card. However, the exciting story of the match may be overshadowed by a disagreement over bonus pay between the players and their owners, according to The Associated Press.

The news source reported that the Nigerian players nearly went on strike over the issue. This delayed their departure for the match, as they were originally scheduled to land in Brazil last week, but instead only arrived on June 16. Only one player, goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, has commented publicly on the matter, and he stated only that the pay issue had yet to be resolved and that he wished the near strike had not caught the attention of the news.

Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi expressed his understanding of his players' discontent. 

"I can't say I am terribly upset with my players, it is their decision ... We are here to make Africa proud and Nigeria proud. Whatever happened before is behind us and we just need to concentrate and play our game tomorrow," he told the source.

Nigeria may be fortunate in the match, due to Tahiti's comparative inexperience, according to BBC Sport. Eddy Etaeta, coach for Tahiti, all but openly admitted an impending defeat.

"I'm afraid we will go to Brazil and not give a very good image of Tahitian football," Etaeta told the BBC. "Yes, we play football but normally it's for fun, mixed in with a bit of competition."


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