SPORTS DAY: Baxter blasted for picking Furman

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SPORTS DAY: Baxter blasted for picking Furman

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SOCCER
Baxter in the firing line over Furman
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter had a lot of questions to answer on Tuesday after he announced his squad for the Four Nations Cup in Zambia and his persistent selection of SuperSport United midfielder Dean Furman was one of the most difficult to handle. Baxter had indicated a week before announcing his first squad of the year that his emphasis would be on blooding in youngsters who had the potential to represent South Africa at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon next year. But when he named the team on Tuesday the Briton had a few experienced players that he said would help guide the youngsters. Furman was one of them.With Furman’s form arguably not at its best at the moment and his team struggling to get results in the league since their loss in the CAF Confederation Cup in November last year‚ it was expected that the midfielder would make way for other deserving candidates. “I think Dean Furman’s got a lot of qualities that the other people don’t have‚ simply as that‚” explained Baxter. “We complain all the time that we’re not mentally strong but he is the most mentally strong of players in that squad‚ and yet we question it.”
Guardiola plays down hopes of title in derby
Pep Guardiola tried to play down growing excitement among Manchester City supporters over the possibility of winning the Premier League title when they face bitter rivals United in the derby early next month. Jose Mourinho’s side visit the Etihad Stadium on April 7 for a game which could see City make mathematically certain of being crowned champions following their 2-0 victory at Stoke on Monday. First, City must win their visit to mid-table Everton but, should they do so, Guardiola will win his first league title in English football with victory over his old rival Mourinho at the Etihad.
PARALYMPICS
Pyeongchang sets record for ticket sales
The Pyeongchang Paralympics have set a record for ticket sales, crossing 320,531 on Tuesday to break previous mark set in Sochi four years ago, said the International Paralympic Committee. Sales for the March 9-18 Paralympics surpassed the 316,200 tickets sold in the Sochi edition by Monday. The latest figure is nearly double the 162,974 tickets sold during the 2006 event in Turin, the IPC said. The IPC said the figures highlight a growing global interest in Paralympic sports.TENNIS
Venus knocks out Serena
Serena Williams’s return to the WTA Tour came to an abrupt end as she crashed out of Indian Wells with a 6-3, 6-4 loss to her sister Venus. Venus closed out the 29th career meeting between the two on her second match point as Serena sailed a forehand long to end the third- round showdown. It was the first meeting between the sisters since they clashed in the final of the 2017 Australian Open, which Serena won before taking a 15-month hiatus due to her pregnancy. Serena said she is still easing her way back into match fitness. “It wasn’t very easy, obviously,” she said. “It was good to play and try to get in the rhythm and get into the swing again.”
LEAGUE
New Australia rugby league chief makes gaffe
The tenure of Australia’s new rugby league chief has got off to an embarrassing start with Peter Beattie unable to name which team plays in the Sydney suburb of Cronulla. The former Queensland state premier, who took over as Australian Rugby League Commission chairperson last month, made the gaffe in a television interview late Monday. “Before you’re officially welcomed, you’ve got to answer one question,” league legend Phil “Gus” Gould asked him on popular show 100% Footy — “The team that plays out of the Sutherland Shire — is it the Cronulla Hawks, the Cronulla Seagulls or the Cronulla Sharks?” The question was reminiscent of an infamous incident in which Beattie’s predecessor John Grant misnamed the “Cronulla Hawks” during his time in the role. Beattie stumbled over his answer and seemed unable to name the 2016 premiers. “I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t have a bloody clue, but I’ll know next week,” he said. “It’s got to be Cronulla of some kind.”
BASKETBALL
Rodman admits drink-driving
Dennis Rodman, a five-time NBA champion and sometime buddy of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was sentenced to three years’ probation on Monday after admitting drink-driving. Rodman, 56, who failed a breath test after he was stopped in Newport Beach, southern California, in January for a vehicle violation, was also ordered to undergo a nine-month first offender alcohol programme. “The court made the right call. In issuing the sentence, the court recognised Dennis’s intensive inpatient rehabilitation and his commitment to treatment,” said Rodman’s attorney, Paul Meyer. “Dennis has accepted responsibility for his sobriety and has made great progress.”
RUGBY
Armand ready as England bid to bounce back
Don Armand is ready to play anywhere in England’s back row after being called up as No 8 cover for Exeter colleague Sam Simmonds ahead of their Six Nations finale against Ireland. Back-to-back defeats by Scotland and France have wrecked England’s dreams of a third successive Six Nations title and now they will try to do to already-crowned champions Ireland what the Irish did to them in Dublin last season by denying the visitors a Grand Slam on Saturday. It is 12 years since England last lost three games in a single Championship campaign. But they have yet to be beaten at Twickenham since Australian coach Eddie Jones took charge following their first-round exit on home soil at the 2015 World Cup.
AFP-Reuters-TimesLIVE

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