Nigeria headed to Confederations Cup after bonus dispute

Nigeria celebrates winning the African Cup of Nations in February.
Armando Franca/AP

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- Nigeria will fly to Brazil after all, calling off a threatened strike over bonus payments that could have crippled the Confederations Cup.

Nigeria's players had been promised $10,000 for each win in the tournament and $5,000 for draws but the local football association found itself short of cash and cut the awards in half at the last minute.

The conflict prompted Nigeria to cancel its planned flight to Brazil on Thursday.

"As I speak to you the matter has been resolved by the minister,'' Julius Ogunro, an aide to Nigeria sports minister Bolaji Abdullahi, told The Associated Press. "The minister has rallied round to get money to pay the team and we are looking for a way to send the money. The matter has been settled.''

However, it appears Nigeria won't arrive until Saturday, two days before the African Cup of Nations winners open the tournament against Tahiti in Belo Horizonte.

"I spoke with the team manager and they will be on the plane on Saturday and at the Confederations Cup,'' FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said. "So the issue is solved.''

If the issue hadn't been solved, it could have derailed a tournament that features just eight squads.

Nigeria is in Group B, which also features world and European champion Spain and Uruguay. Brazil, Japan, Italy and Mexico are in Group A.

The tournament is a major warm-up event for next year's World Cup in Brazil.

Nigeria drew 1-1 with Namibia in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday, meaning it still hasn't secured a spot in the 2014 tournament.

The Super Eagles also played out a 2-2 draw against Mexico in a friendly in the United States on May 31 and then played another World Cup qualifier in Kenya.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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