SPORTS DAY: Barcelona clash stirs SA fans to a fever pitch

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SPORTS DAY: Barcelona clash stirs SA fans to a fever pitch

Your roundup of the sporting news of the day

Journalist

SOCCER
Sundowns v Barcelona tickets sell at rapid rate
South Africans showed an amazing appetite for the marquee friendly between Mamelodi Sundowns and FC Barcelona after it emerged on Thursday afternoon that tickets to the event were selling at an amazing rate of 216 per minute. The Brazilians host Barcelona at FNB Stadium next Wednesday night in the Mandela Centenary Cup. Coach Ernesto Valverde is expected to parade his array of superstars like Lionel Messi‚ Luis Suárez‚ Ivan Rakitic‚ Ousmane Dembélé‚ Andrés Iniesta‚ Gerard Piqué‚ Busquets and Samuel Umtiti. This is the second meeting between the SA  and Spanish champions as they clashed at Loftus in Pretoria in 2007 where the Catalans triumphed 2-1 through goals by Santi Ezquerro and Marc Crosas, while Surprise Moriri scored for Sundowns. Tickets are selling from R40 to R550.
Rooney set to join MLS club DC UnitedFormer England captain Wayne Rooney has agreed a deal in principle to move from Everton to Major League Soccer (MLS) club DC United. The 32-year-old forward is set to sign a contract until the end of the 2020 season and the move could be completed when the MLS mid-season transfer window opens on July 10. Rooney, capped 119 times by England, rejoined his boyhood club Everton at the start of the season on a two-year deal after 13 trophy-laden years at Manchester United. He scored the last of his 11 goals for the Merseyside club in December and manager Sam Allardyce has suggested he could not guarantee the player a regular starting spot next season.
Third Charlton brother poised for debut – at 72
Tommy Charlton is set to follow in the footsteps of brothers Bobby and Jack and represent England when he plays for the over-60s walking football team against Italy on Sunday. The grandfather of six is preparing to make his England debut at the age of 72 in Brighton in the first walking football international match. England are set to play in a red strip, similar to the kit worn by Charlton’s famous older brothers in the win over West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley. “I never in a million years thought that I’d follow in the footsteps of my brothers and represent England,” said Charlton.
RUGBY
England recall Cipriani for SA tourDanny Cipriani’s three years in the England wilderness came to an end when he was recalled by coach Eddie Jones on Thursday for next month’s tour of South Africa. The Wasps flyhalf, regarded as one of the most talented English players of his generation, has not played for England since the build-up to the 2015 World Cup — when Stuart Lancaster was the Red Rose coach. Cipriani’s stop-start international career has been interrupted by injuries, while his occasionally colourful off-field lifestyle has not endeared him to several England coaches. But the 30-year-old now has the chance to add to a tally of 14 Test caps, the first won back in 2008, after convincing Jones to include him in a 34-man squad for a three-Test series against the Springboks in June.
Spedding signs for CastresSouth Africa-born French international Scott Spedding, who has taken the French league to court, has signed with Castres for next season. Spedding, who has played 23 times for France at fullback, has just been released by Clermont, where he had played since 2015. The player anticipated the move, blaming stricter rules on non-French players in the league, and in April took the matter to France’s supreme court.  In an attempt to force French clubs to field more players eligible for the national team, the league created a category of French-reared players, known as JIFFs, who must have been registered with the French Rugby Federation for at least five years or have spent three seasons in a federation-approved academy if they are under 21. Spedding fails to qualify as a JIFF.
MOTORSPORT
Photographer killed at French rally 
A photographer was killed at a French motor rally when the driver of a Peugeot 206 lost control on a corner and flipped into a wall where the man was standing. Francois Duvauchel, 46, was a father of two and was well known on the local motor sports scene. Organisers said half the competitors pulled out of the race after the restart was declared.
TENNIS
Murray could return in time for Wimbledon 
Andy Murray hasn’t ruled out returning from his hip injury in time for Wimbledon, according to his mother Judy. Former world number one Murray has been out of action since last year’s Wimbledon and underwent surgery in January. Murray had made the grass-court season his target as he continues his rehabilitation and was believed to be ready to play at an event which starts on May 21. But reports this week suggested the two-time Wimbledon champion was in danger of missing his home Grand Slam after apparently scaling back his training programme.
CRICKET
UAE-based coach charged with corruption
A United Arab Emirates-based coach has been provisionally suspended and charged with three counts of corruption, the International Cricket Council said on Thursday. Irfan Ansari, the coach of the One Stop Tourism and Multiplex team, has two weeks from May 19 to respond to the charges, the ICC said. Ansari has been charged with making a corrupt approach to a player and for not cooperating in an investigation by the ICC’s anti-corruption unit since last October.
AFP, Reuters, TimesLIVE

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