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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 24, 2006

DR Congo pay row a waste of energy

CAIRO, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo coach Claude LeRoy said on Tuesday the pay row that threatened the country's participation at the African Nations Cup finals had been a waste of energy.

The Congolese side went on strike before their opening game against Togo on Saturday, spending much of the eve of the match in negotiations before finally deciding to play.

They were threatening to boycott the game in Cairo in a bid to get officials to pay promised bonuses, which LeRoy and players confirmed have now been paid.

The veteran French coach said it was a problem that could easily have been avoided if officials had been organised.

'We've had months since we qualified to get all this sorted out, everyone knows that but it predictably happens during the tournament.

'Everything is OK from yesterday but too much energy was spent on this issue. I'm tired of it all, very tired,' said LeRoy, in charge at a fifth Nations Cup finals over the last 20 years.

'I have given everything, I think I'll need a long holiday after this,' added LeRoy, who has had to battle to get his own wages paid over the last six months.

On Saturday, after Congo had won their home match against Togo at Cairo's Military stadium, the coach went on stage at the post-match news conference to dramatically reveal his players had come close to not competing.

'They had not received any of their bonus payments but just 10 minutes before the match the head of state called me on my mobile and promised to solve the issue. I passed the phone to the captain (Lomana LuaLua) who told the players.'