January 10, 2017 / 2:23 PM / 10 months ago

Guinea Bissau players settle strike on eve of African Cup debut

BISSAU (Reuters) - Guinea Bissau’s football team have settled a strike over unpaid wages, clearing the way for their debut appearance at the African Nations Cup finals.

After the news emerged, thousands lined the streets of the capital of the tiny West African country to watch the squad parade by on Tuesday.

They meet hosts Gabon in the opening game in Libreville on Saturday, after a fairytale qualification for the three-week finals - one of the biggest shocks in Nations Cup history.

Their build-up was interrupted at the weekend when players went on strike over unpaid bonuses that had been promised them for qualifying. It was only settled after a delegation of three players went to see the country’s president, Jose Mario Vaz, Portuguese news agency Lusa reported.

They have since all been paid between 10,000 and 23,000 euros in outstanding fees, Lusa added.

“In the early hours of Sunday, the players received everything they had to receive,” a government spokesman told the agency.

A charter plane, borrowed from Congo Brazzaville, was due to fly the team to Libreville on Wednesday.

The former Portuguese colony frequently beset by coups, eliminated former champions Congo and Zambia in qualifying last year.

They were a Leicester-like long shot when the qualifiers began, having only previously won four matches in Nations Cup and World Cup qualification combined since first entering international competition just 22 years ago.

($1 = 0.9457 euros)

Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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