Cash bonus for AFCON stars

2012-02-14 11:15

Lusaka - The Zambian government has given $59 000 to each player in the national side which won the country's first Africa Cup of Nations title on Sunday, the sports minister said Tuesday.

"The government has given each one of you $59 000, and that is beside what the corporate organisations might decide to give. This money is from the government," Chishimba Kambwili said on national radio.

The award is a princely sum in a nation where, per capita, the gross domestic product is less than $1 500.

Zambia defeated hot favourites Ivory Coast 8-7 on penalties after 120 goalless minutes in Sunday's final, which had emotional overtones for Zambia.

The final was staged in the Gabonese capital Libreville, off whose coast a military aircraft carrying the 1993 Zambian national squad plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 30 players, officials and crew on board.

The victorious national team returned home Monday, sparking a near stampede at the Lusaka show grounds where 200,000 people gathered to celebrate the Chipolopolo Boys (Copper Bullets).

Players and government officials had to be whisked away amid chaotic scenes after fans became unruly.

But the win was also greeted with sombre prayers at the burial site of the 1993 squad, where President Michael Sata is expected to lay a wreath later on Tuesday to honour the team whose spirits are widely credited with ensuring Zambia's victory.

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