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Monday, January 30, 2006
DR Congo say 'no pay: no play'

GIZA, Egypt, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo will not play their African Nations Cup quarter-final against Egypt if bonuses are not paid in time, coach Claude Leroy said on Monday.

DR Congo nearly boycotted their opening Group B game against Togo over unpaid bonuses for reaching these finals. A fresh row has now broken over cash for reaching the last eight against the host nation on Friday.

'If they are not paid, they will not play the quarter-final,' LeRoy told reporters at the team hotel near Cairo.

'That's absolutely sure, absolutely certain. There will be no quarter-final, not even if you applied all the pressure in the world on them' said the Frenchman.

'But it's not blackmail. I've managed to keep them going this far but they won't go any further. But I think all of this will be sorted out today - or tomorrow at the latest.'

LeRoy's optimism was based on assurances he received on Sunday night in a personal phone call from DR Congo's President Joseph Kabila.

Kabila had spoken to LeRoy and team captain Lomana LuaLua 15 minutes before kickoff against Togo on Jan. 21 to reassure them that the money would be paid.

'And the day after the phone call from the head of state they were paid the bonuses for competing (in the group phase), as planned,' he said.

That bonus was $10,000 per player - and now they are waiting for a further $15,000 each for reaching the last eight, LeRoy said.

BANKNOTE BRIEFCASE

Waiting for a special envoy to arrive with a suitcase stuffed with banknotes has clearly not been the ideal preparation for his team at this tournament.

LeRoy believes the constant haggling is to blame for the two red cards received by his team in their last two Group B matches.

'All these horse-trading discussions go on for hours about bonuses, when are they going to arrive? has the special envoy left or not?...the lads have so often been let down.

'All this creates needless tension and perhaps, somewhere along the line, these sendings-off can be explained as the frustration of people who have lost their cool because of the interminable hours spent talking - which also wear me out.

'It's not football,' said the Frenchman, who has a wealth of experience in Africa, helping Cameroon to reach the final in Egypt back in 1986.

Asked to sum up this spell in Egypt with DR Congo compared with previous Nations Cups with other teams, LeRoy said: 'It's rock 'n' roll.'




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