SPORTS DAY: Cue the excuses for blundering Bafana

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SPORTS DAY: Cue the excuses for blundering Bafana

Your roundup of the sporting news of the day

Sports editor

SOCCER
Bafana Bafana shut down by Madagascar
Bafana Bafana will roll out the excuses of missed chances and opponents who came to defend, but in the end their 4-3 penalties Cosafa Cup defeat against Madagascar in Polokwane was just another in a long line of disappointing results for the national team. Bafana had their best chances to kill off their first game of the competition in the first half at Peter Mokaba Stadium. Madagascar, having kept a clean sheet, completely shut down any attempt to play in the second, where they spoiled effectively, clattering into clashes and clipping at heels. SA lacked urgency and composure as the chips were laid down in the second half. The hosts now, as they did last year in Rustenburg, suffer the ignominy of going into the plate section.
ROWING
McCann and Van Wyk win SA's sole World Cup medal
Kirsty McCann and Nicole van Wyk produced a powerful finale in the lightweight women’s double sculls to land South Africa’s only medal at the season’s opening World Cup regatta in Belgrade on Sunday. The duo were in fourth place with 500m to go when they put their foot down to snatch silver in 6min 51.30sec‚ edging the third-placed British crew by 0.34sec and the France boat by 0.66. The favourite Dutch duo of Ilse Paulis‚ the Olympic champion in this class‚ and Marieke Keijser‚ the two-time under-23 world single sculls champion‚ lived up to their top billing‚ clocking 6:49.27 way out in front. But McCann and Van Wyk had the consolation of delivering the fastest time of the field over the final 500m‚ when it really counted. They torpedoed the last quarter of the 2km course on Sava Lake in 1:40.28‚ more than a second quicker than anybody else — Holland were 1:41.69‚ Britain 1:41.94 and France’s 1:41.77.
SOCCER
Ledwaba is first woman vice-president of Safa
Ria Ledwaba was voted in as the first woman vice-president of the South African Football Association (Safa) in a national council meeting of the association on Sunday. The three new Safa presidents were chosen at the meeting of the council (formerly the national executive committee) at a hotel in Polokwane. Safa had decreed that for this term at least one of the new vice-presidents had to be a woman. Ledwaba‚ though‚ did not need to win by default. The former owner of Ria Stars FC obtained the most votes: 28 out of the 29 cast.
CRICKET
Cricketer of the year Rabada sets new targets
SA Cricketer of the year Kagiso “KG” Rabada is targeting the outgoing series to Sri Lanka next month to make his return from the injury that ruled him out of the Delhi Daredevils’ roster in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL). Rabada has been out of action with the lower back stress he suffered during the fourth and final Test match against Australia at the Wanderers Stadium in April. He has now returned to training and wants to be ruthless in the coming season. “There are things that happened to me; some were good and some bad, and I have taken note of them‚” he said after walking away with six gongs that included Cricketer of the year and Players’ player of the year at the Cricket SA Awards in Sandton on Saturday night.
TENNISHeight of ambition: why size matters for Anderson
Kevin Anderson will tower over French Open fourth-round opponent Diego Schwartzman on Monday but the big South African insists the Argentinian’s short stature should not be interpreted as a weakness. World No 7 Anderson, at 2.02m, faces 1.7m Schwartzman, bidding to make the quarter-finals for the first time in Paris. On paper, it should be straightforward. Anderson, the first South African man to make the US Open final in 52 years when he finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal in 2017, has a 2-0 record over Schwartzman. One of those wins came on clay in Nice in 2016. At this year’s French Open, Anderson has fired 57 aces and been broken just twice while Schwartzman has just nine aces. But the Argentinian has won all three rounds in straight sets while Anderson needed four to see off Pablo Cuevas and Mischa Zverev. So, when it comes to their respective statures, Anderson has no time for those who say that a player has to stand tall to be successful. “What makes him so good is he’s one of the best returners in the game,” he said.
CYCLING
Tour de France king of the mountains unveiled
The 2018 Tour de France 2018 will feature nine “beyond category” climbs over its 3,351km route, organisers of the July 7-29 event revealed on Sunday. Even when it climbs familiar mountains, the Tour can take different routes, so each year the organisers classify all the climbs in the race. They can be 4, 3, 2, 1 or beyond category, depending on length, steepness, and elevation. For 2018, nine climbs have been classified as beyond category and 10 are category 1, giving a total of 19 challenging ascents, compared with 23 in 2017 and 28 in 2016. The first riders over each summit gain points, weighted according to the category of the climb, and the points leader gets to pull on the Tour’s polka-dot, or “king of the mountains”, jersey. The Plateau des Glieres, the Montee de Bisanne, the Cols du Pre, de la Madeleine and de la Croix-de-Fer, the Alpe d’Huez and the Cols du Portet, Tourmalet and Aubisque are, in order, the beyond category climbs steeped in Tour legend awaiting this year’s roster.
MOTOGP
Lorenzo wins Italian MotoGP
Spain’s Jorge Lorenzo claimed his first MotoGP win in a year and a half at the Italian Grand Prix in Mugello on Sunday as world championship leader Marc Marquez fell and finished in 16th place. Lorenzo took the lead early and held on til the end with Italian Ducati teammate Andrea Dovizioso finishing second and Valentino Rossi, who had started from pole position, completing the podium on a Yamaha. Spain's Marquez remains top of the championship standings after five races despite finishing 16th after crashing into the gravel early in the race and struggling to restart his Honda.
TENNIS
Zverev’s days of living dangerously go on
Alexander Zverev’s appetite for five-set marathons showed no signs of shrinking and even blisters on his toes could not stop the German from storming into his first major quarter-final with a 4-6 7-6(4) 2-6 6-3 6-3 French Open win over Karen Khachanov on Sunday. The German had survived successive five-setters in the previous two rounds, including saving a match point against Damir Dzumhur in the last 32, but his fatigued legs and blistered feet again worked overtime to carry him over the finishing line against Khachanov. “I am young so I might as well stay on court for a while and entertain you guys,” the 21-year-old Zverev, who became the youngest man to reach the quarter-finals at Roland Garros since 2009, told the cheering crowd. “All the hours I have spent in the gym has definitely paid off as I was down two-sets-to-one in each of the three matches.”
Serena 'betrayed' as Sharapova feud fires up Open
Serena Williams will be fired up to tighten her 14-year grip on Maria Sharapova by a sense of betrayal as the two stars play out the latest chapter of their bitter feud at the French Open on Monday. Sharapova has not defeated the fellow former world No 1 since 2004 – a streak of 18 matches – the year she made her global breakthrough at Wimbledon as a slender teenager prone to fits of giggles. The 22nd match of their one-sided rivalry will once again be played out against a familiar soundtrack of suspicion and bad blood. Williams, the three-time French Open champion and 23-time major winner, has vented her anger at Sharapova’s claims that she had wept after losing the 2004 Wimbledon title match. The 36-year-old American described references to her as “100% hearsay” while other revelations in Sharapova’s memoir, Unstoppable, she dismissed as “not necessarily true”. Williams is particularly angry as Sharapova’s claims came just months after the American had hailed her for the manner in which she announced her failed drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open.
RUGBYAll Blacks facing test of depth ahead of France opener
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen looks likely to face a severe test of his squad’s depth for the first test against France next week after a string of injuries over the past few days further diminished his already depleted stocks. The All Blacks were always going to be without captain Kieran Read, who is still recovering from back surgery, but the No 8 has been joined on the casualty list by a handful of other first-choice players. The latest was Brodie Retallick, who suffered a pectoral injury playing for the Waikato Chiefs in Super Rugby on Saturday. Chiefs coach Gavin Cooper said on Sunday that the injury was serious and Retallick was unlikely to face the French in Auckland next Saturday. Stand-in skipper Sam Whitelock, Retallick’s second-row partner, must also be rated doubtful for the Eden Park contest after missing the Canterbury Crusaders’ last three matches because of concussion symptoms.
AFP, Reuters and TimesLIVE

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