SPORTS DAY: SA Soccer needs ‘gardening of its weeds’

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SPORTS DAY: SA Soccer needs ‘gardening of its weeds’

Your roundup of the day’s top sporting news

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SOCCER
Bafana coach prepared to lose job over view
Stuart Baxter says he is willing to lose his job for saying it‚ but South African football as a whole needs “gardening of its weeds”‚ and an effective overhaul‚ to escape a Groundhog Day of failure. Baxter this week promised an emphasis on youth in Bafana selections starting from their matches this year‚ but said SA football‚ from his perspective‚ needs to get its house in order or any national coach is destined to fail. “We have got to try and tidy up the garden‚” he said. “When I say garden‚ I use that because there are plenty of weeds. And I don’t mean just on the football field. I mean at Safa House‚ I mean with our relationship to the media‚ I mean with our relationship with the clubs‚ I mean with our relationships with the players.”
Arsenal test as murky finances threaten AC Milan
AC Milan’s superb recent run faces a stiff test against Arsenal in the Europa League last-16 first leg in Italy on Thursday amid a backdrop of murky finances which are threatening one of Italy’s most successful clubs. Former AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has turned around the fortunes of the struggling former European power on the pitch, with his side unbeaten in 13 games, and back within reach of Champions League qualification. But behind the scenes European football’s governing body UEFA have voiced concerns over the club’s complicated financial situation under their new Chinese owners.
CRICKET
Warner cleared to play
David Warner is one demerit point away from a ban in the wake of his off-field altercation with Quinton de Kock at Kingsmead on Sunday. Warner‚ who was charged under level two of the code of conduct for behaviour that “brings the game into disrepute”‚ did not contest the allegation. He was hit with a fine of 75% of his match fee and is believed to be more than R125,000 poorer. Warner also earned three demerit points — one short of what would have seen him barred from playing in the second test at St George’s Park on Friday.Massive hikes for Indian players
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has introduced a new A+ category in the retainer fee structure for its top players, who will receive a huge pay increase under the new Annual Contracts for the 2017-18 season. The retainer structure now features four categories compared to three in previous years. The uppermost category features five players — skipper Virat Kohli, opening batsmen Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, pacemen Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah — who have been put on a retainer worth 70 million Indian rupees ($1.1-million). The amount is a significant increase from last year, where players in the uppermost category were handed retainers of 20 million Indian rupees.
ATHLETICS
Gatlin waxes lyrical on Wayde
The fastest man in the world‚ Justin Gatlin‚ said on Wednesday he was a fan of Wayde van Niekerk as he waxed lyrical about South Africa’s 400m world record-holder. “I can’t describe Wayde‚ man‚” he said‚ before delving into verbal prose.  “It’s poetry in motion watching him run‚ I can tell you that.  Him coming down that straight‚ I just see it in my mind … he seems like he’s just gliding like a gazelle bringing it home‚ it’s just amazing to watch. I’m definitely a fan of his‚ for sure.”
RUGBY
Kinghorn the only Scotland change
Blair Kinghorn will make his first start for Scotland on Saturday after being named in Gregor Townsend’s side for their Six Nations clash against Ireland in Dublin, the only change to the starting line-up. The 21-year-old Edinburgh wing replaces the injured Tommy Seymour. Kinghorn made his debut off the bench in the triumphant Calcutta Cup win over England on February 24 that saw Scotland claw their way back into Championship contention ahead of the trip to play Joe Schmidt’s unbeaten side.
CYCLING
Ex-Sky coach urges Wiggins to explain
Bradley Wiggins’s former coach has urged the five-time Olympic champion and former Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman to explain their use of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) for banned medication. British lawmakers on Monday admitted that Wiggins, Team Sky and their principal Dave Brailsford were not guilty of “a violation” of doping rules, but said their actions in applying for TUEs for triamcinolone did “cross an ethical line”. Shane Sutton, the former Team Sky head coach and British cycling technical director, stuck by what he told the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee that he felt “what Brad was doing was unethical but not against the rules” in applying for TUEs for banned drugs.
MOTORSPORT
Renault blame batteries for Red Bull, McLaren issues
Renault has blamed faulty batteries for electrical problems suffered in testing by McLaren and Red Bull, both teams who use their engines. McLaren had two electrical-related problems on Tuesday, the first day of the final pre-season test in Barcelona, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen also brought out a red flag when his car stopped on track. Renault’s works team had no problems, but technical head Bob Bell said it was nothing to do with the way the batteries were installed.
POWERLIFTING
Afghan female powerlifters flex their muscles
Inside the Afghanistan Powerlifting Federation’s cramped gym, Rasheda Parhiz lies on a bench wearing a tunic over sweatpants and holding a 70kg weighted bar above her scarf-covered head. The 40-year-old began powerlifting several years ago to help lose weight — she used to weigh 120kg and hid her ample frame under a burqa. Now a fitter 82kg, Parhiz’s ability to lift 100kg has brought the mother of three trophies and medals in local and regional competitions, which she keeps in a plastic shopping bag in her mud-brick home. Several times a week Afghanistan’s female powerlifting team squeezes into a small carpeted room in Kabul where they strip off their body-covering abayas and pump iron. Lifting weights heavier than themselves, the women are also flexing their muscles in a deeply conservative and patriarchal country where sport has long been the domain of men.
Reuters-AFP-TimesLIVE

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