Equatorial Guinea offered $1 million win bonus
Equatorial Guinea will share a $1 million win bonus and earn $20,000 per goal against Libya when the co-host makes its debut at the African Cup of Nations on Saturday.
The cash has been put up by Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of the country's president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasolo, who has controlled the oil-rich nation since 1979, team liaison officer David Mosiwy told the Associated Press on Wednesday.
''This is a personal gesture - there is no official standing to the prize,'' Mosiwy said. ''The news has given the players an injection of enthusiasm and morale. It shows the popular support everybody has for the team.''
Equatorial Guinea, which qualified as co-host of the tournament with west African neighbor Gabon, has never appeared at the African Cup before.
The country has enjoyed a 10-year construction boom fueled by oil and gas reserves but has attracted criticism for the alleged lingering inequality between rich and poor, a flawed democratic record under President Obiang, and a perceived lack of human rights.
Equatorial Guinea has an unemployment rate of around 22 percent, according to U.S. intelligence estimates, while UNICEF lists life expectancy at just 51.
Mosiwy said it was unclear whether similar jackpots will be on offer for the team's other Group A matches against Senegal next Wednesday and Zambia four days later.
Ranked No. 151 behind Yemen and Samoa, Equatorial Guinea has a squad of largely unheralded players led by Rodolfo Bodipo, a striker who plays in the Spanish second-tier with Deportivo La Coruna.
The team, known as the Nzalang Nacional, suffered a blow to its preparations when experienced French coach Henri Michel resigned just weeks ago. Michel was replaced by Brazilian coach Gilson Paulo, who has had little time to mold his tactics.