SPORTS DAY: Joy as Junior Dala named for Proteas T20
A roundup of all the major sporting news of the day
Joyful scenes as Dala named for T20
Beatrice Dala struggled to control her emotions after she was told that her son had done enough to convince the Cricket South Africa (CSA) selectors to name him in the Proteas T20 squad to play India in three home T20 matches. As soon as he got off the phone with CSA convenor of selectors Linda Zondo‚ Titans fast bowler Junior Dala rang his mother Beatrice to give her the good news and also tell her that he would make his debut against India this week. The unexpected news was too much for Beatrice and she broke down in tears. Dala is the 14th player from the Titans to be chosen to play for South Africa in the last eight years. He is one of three players in line for their debuts in the T20 series with Warriors hitman Christiaan Jonker and his wicketkeeper/batsman and teammate Heinrich Klaasen.
Wanderers, Kingsmead, Newlands miss out on T20
Only two of the eight members of Cricket South Africa’s T20 task team represent major playing venues. That could raise concerns that the group‚ asked to “interrogate the concept” of “the future of the T20 Global League”‚ is open to pressure and promises from more heavyweight figures and cabals in South Africa’s cricket powerscape. The task team comprises CSA vice-president and acting chief executive Thabang Moroe and chief financial officer Naasei Appiah‚ three member presidents — Northerns’ John Wright‚ Oupa Nkagisang of North West and Griquas’ Rihan Richards — and three member chief executives — Mark Williams of Eastern Province‚ Free State’s Johan van Heerden and James Fortuin of Boland. Only Wright and Williams are part of organisations whose grounds regularly host senior international matches. The Wanderers‚ Newlands and Kingsmead‚ the venues in South Africa’s three biggest cities‚ are not represented.
President 'was protecting friend'
SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam ignored a damning report into a member federation to protect a friend, the ministerial committee of inquiry into governance issues at Sascoc heard on Thursday. Lawyer David Becker also alleged Sam had earlier tried and failed to derail the investigation into the SA Sports and Fitness Federation (Sasaff), responsible for aerobics sport and hip hop — a move that cost Sascoc “hundreds of thousands of rands”. Some six years after complaints were first lodged and nearly three years after the report was finalised, no action had been taken.
Playing depth a big issue for Super Rugby teams
Although the South African Super Rugby contingent has been cut from six to four teams‚ there is no guarantee that it means an improvement in player depth at each franchise. The Cheetahs and Southern Kings are still involved in Pro14 rugby so little of their talent has been incorporated into the four remaining Super Rugby franchises – The Bulls‚ Lions‚ Sharks and Stormers. Playing depth will remain an issue for all SA teams‚ especially when injuries inevitably set in. The tournament structure has also reverted to its 2012-15 incarnation with 15 teams playing eight inter-conference and eight cross–conference games. Compared to the laborious mess of 18 teams over the past two seasons‚ the format is an improvement. With only one play-off place reserved for the SA Conference winners (as opposed to three previously)‚ making the quarterfinals will require more ruthlessness and consistency from all teams. The top team from each conference will go through and the next five best teams on the log also progress to the post season.SOCCER
Chiefs a work in progress three years on
Kaizer Chiefs might have looked the best they have so far in the advanced stage of coach Steve Komphela’s tenure but veteran midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala says Amakhosi are still not the finished product. Tshabalala said Komphela‚ whose future hangs in the balance with his contract up at the end of this season‚ has done a good job in a difficult rebuilding phase for Amakhosi. A renewal is perhaps dependent on winning either the Nedbank Cup‚ where Chiefs are into the last 16‚ or league‚ where Amakhosi are seven points behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns with 10 games to go. And an improved Amakhosi in the past three months‚ from a combination of an injection of youth and signings‚ has seen Chiefs looking their most complete and competitive yet under Komphela. However‚ Tshabalala warned: “I think we’re not a complete team‚ but we’re a work in progress.”
Klopp salutes hat-rick hero Mane
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp praised hat-trick hero Sadio Mane and his side’s “perfect” performance after they all but booked their place in the Champions League last eight on Wednesday by thumping Porto. The five-time champions romped to a 5-0 victory at the Portuguese league leaders, and when asked if Liverpool had put in a perfect performance, Klopp told BT Sport: “Yes. You could say that of course. It was very professional, very mature in the right moments, very aggressive, good defending, good counter-attacking, keeping the ball, moving them around. In this game it was possible, usually it’s not that easy.”
Italy’s World Cup failure is a wake-up call
Fifa president Gianni Infantino revealed on Thursday his despair at Italy’s failure to reach the World Cup finals where he had hoped to hand the trophy to Azzurri captain Gianluigi Buffon. “I’m sad, yes I’m sad for the World Cup. I almost cried,” Infantino, who holds both Swiss and Italian nationality, said five months ahead of the World Cup final match in Russia. “I think it’s a collective sadness. We’re talking about a team with a great tradition who give their best in events like this.“ Infantino, the Swiss-born son of Italian immigrant parents, took over the scandal-battered world body from disgraced president Sepp Blatter in February 2016. “I would have liked to have given the cup to Buffon though,” admitted the 47-year-old. Infantino said that there had been signs of trouble within the four-time world champions long before their dramatic failure in last November’s play-offs.
It’s Ronaldo 2, Neymar 0
Paris Saint-Germain face a huge task to reach the Champions League quarterfinals after Cristiano Ronaldo defied talk that his powers are waning with two goals as Real Madrid won 3-1 in the first leg of their last-16 tie. Billed as a contest between World Player of the Year Ronaldo and his Brazilian heir-in-waiting Neymar, the 33-year-old Portuguese came out emphatically on top as he became the first player to score 100 Champions League goals for the same club. “Real Madrid love the Champions League and as players we can feel that on the pitch,” Ronaldo said after being named man of the match.
A torrent of tears in Pyeongchang
Skier Mikaela Shiffrin opened her Olympics with victory and figure skaters Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot smashed a world record to grab gold as full Olympic competition resumed on Thursday after days of wind disruption. The 22-year-old Shiffrin kicked off her bid for multiple titles in Pyeongchang with a storming second run in the giant slalom. The Sochi 2014 slalom champion from the US sank to her knees and dissolved in tears after her powerful descent brought her gold from Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel by 0.39 seconds. Earlier, Aksel Lund Svindal, 35, became the Olympics’ oldest alpine ski champion in the men’s downhill, with Kjetil Jansrud completing a Norwegian one-two.
Never mind the chill, sales have been red hot
Sports e-commerce company Fanatics said that sales of a $300 Nike Team USA jacket have spiked following Chloe Kim and Shaun White winning gold medals, making jackets its highest grossing Olympics category. Kim blew away the competition to win the women’s snowboard halfpipe gold on Tuesday. The following day White delivered a stunning routine on the final run of a gripping halfpipe final to win his third Winter Olympic gold and a landmark 100th for his country. Fanatics, which handles merchandising for the US Olympic Committee, said it sold thousands of Team USA jackets since the Olympics started, but it picked up “insanely” after Kim and White competed.
TimesLive, AFP and Reuters