Winning Afcon is priceless

Apart from the R16m, there’s also a place at the Fifa Confederations Cup

The prize money for the African champions might be a paltry $2?million (R18?million), but a place in the Fifa Confederations Cup is priceless.

The big carrot that has been dangled for the team that will be crowned champions of Africa next Sunday is the qualification to the prestigious Confederations Cup in Brazil in June.

In comparison to what Spain, the winners of the 2012 European Championship, got (R253 million), the soon-to-be-crowned African champions’ R16 million is a drop in the ocean.

But not one of the remaining sides in the tournament is fighting for the money.

The big prize is to be one of the eight continental champions to play in the curtain-raiser to the World Cup in Brazil next year.

It is worth more in prestige and experience to whoever wins the Africa Cup of Nations than money can buy.

The African champions will be in an elite group that includes defending World Cup and European champions Spain, Uruguay and the unknown minnows from Tahiti. And Zambia, the one-year wonders and dethroned champions of 2012, are crying foul.

As the 2012 Afcon champions, they claim they are entitled to a place at the top table of the world’s second-biggest football tournament.

The problem is that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) rescheduled Afcon so it would not conflict with the World Cup years.

Afcon has in the past been played in January and February of the World Cup year, but this changed last year.

CAF and their member countries felt the African teams were at a disadvantage, playing in a major continental tournament in January and February, and then expected to compete on the biggest stage of all – the World Cup – four ­months later.

CAF changed the schedule by staging Afcon in odd years, starting this year.

To do this, CAF played back-to-back Afcons in 2012 and 2013. And Zambia’s outspoken French coach, Herve Renard, slammed the decision to overlook Zambia and allow the 2013 champions to represent Africa in Brazil.

Zambia’s Chipolopolo are one of the biggest disappointments of the 2013 Afcon, having been eliminated in the group stages.

Although the decision to allow the 2013 champions into the Confederations Cup was taken before the start of the 2013 event, Renard slammed the call.

“CAF are very happy that Zambia is not going to the Confederations Cup.

They think we are not sexy or famous enough to represent Africa,” he said.

Unfortunately, Chipolopolo will never get a chance to rub shoulders with other continental champions. That honour will fall on the new champions at the National Stadium on Sunday.

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