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Cameroon team set to depart for Africa Cup of Nations despite pay dispute

(Reuters)

YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Cameroon's soccer team are heading to Egypt for the Africa Cup of Nations after initially refusing to board a flight because of a players' pay dispute, the team said in a statement on Friday.

The champions face Guinea-Bissau in their opening match of the tournament on Tuesday, but the players did not appear for their flight on Thursday evening amid a spat over bonus payments.

"We are not satisfied (with the government's proposition), but we have decided to end all negotiation concerning our premiums," said the statement.

"We will be travelling to Egypt this Friday."

Pay disputes before major competitions are not unusual for African soccer federations who often do not have sufficient resources to pay their players high sums. Nigeria and Ghana have experienced similar problems in recent World Cups.

Ministry of sports spokesman Gabriel Nloga said the players had each been paid a bonus of 20 million CFA francs (27,364.33 pounds). A source at Cameroon's soccer federation said the players had asked for twice that.

Following negotiations, the ministry of sport agreed on Friday to pay each player a one-off 5 million CFA franc bonus once they have won their first match in Egypt.

Cameroon has a rich soccer history, with both male and female teams taking part in a number of past World Cups.

The women's team was one of three African teams to qualify for the World Cup taking place in France. They face England in the last 16 on Sunday.

But the Central African country was last year stripped of its right to host the 2019 Nations Cup due to delays in preparations for the tournament and security concerns.

The Cup kicks off later on Friday with an opening match between hosts Egypt and Zimbabwe in Cairo.

(Reporting by Josiane Kouagheu; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Edward McAllister/David Holmes/Pritha Sarkar)

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