SPORTS DAY: Who has a hope of bringing down Downs?


SPORTS DAY: Who has a hope of bringing down Downs?

Your roundup of the sporting news of the day

Sunday Times sports editor

Champions Sundowns aware of target on back
Mamelodi Sundowns know they will have a marksman’s target on their back in the coming season but the Absa premiership title holders say they will be ready for all the pretenders eyeing their crown. The Brazilians will do battle on five fronts: besides defending their domestic league title‚ they will also participate in the Caf Champions League‚ MTN8‚ Telkom Knockout, and in the Nedbank Cup. Sundowns begin the defence of their PSL title against Kaizer Chiefs at Loftus on Saturday and goalkeeper Denis Onyango conceded that they have a tough journey ahead. “It won’t be easy to defend the league title but we must stay positive‚” he said. “We have to believe that we can do it.”
PSL keeps transfer window open until end of August
The Premier Soccer League will not be taking their lead from a number of European nations and closing the transfer window early‚ allowing clubs to keep trading until the last day of August. Competitions such as England’s Premier League and Italy’s Serie A have decided that their transfer window will close the day before the start of the new league season‚ ensuring that squads are complete by the big kickoff. Most PSL teams like to do their business early and it is rare that there is a massive flurry of activity towards the end of the window‚ as has become the norm in England.
Egypt appoint Mexican Aguirre as new head coach
The Egyptian Football Association announced on Thursday the appointment of Mexican Javier Aguirre as head coach of the national team on a four-year deal. Aguirre replaces Argentinian Hector Cuper after his contract expired following the 2018 World Cup, where Egypt lost all three of their matches to crash out in the group stage. The 59-year-old Aguirre has previously coached Mexico and Japan. His most recent job was with the United Arab Emirates’s Al Wahda from 2015-2017. He will earn $120,000 a month with his two assistants, and was promised a $500,000 bonus if Egypt qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
After 68 years‚ another South African gets Ring beltHekkie Budler finally took possession of the colourful The Ring magazine championship belt on Wednesday‚ making him officially the second South African to wear the strap. Budler lifted the crown when he defeated junior-flyweight king Ryoichi Taguchi of Japan‚ also the IBF and WBA champion‚ in May. The last South African to wear the belt was Vic Toweel‚ the undisputed world bantamweight champion from 1950-52. Budler has now amassed 11 belts — one for each year of his professional years‚ and they feature the WBA‚ IBF and IBO championships.
‘We have to bring our A-game‚’ says coach De Bruin
Lions coach Swys de Bruin was in no doubt about what his team needs to do to break with history in Saturday’s Super Rugby final against the Crusaders in Christchurch. “We have to bring our A-game and more. We have huge respect for them‚” said De Bruin about the eight-time champions who are this weekend defending the title they won at Ellis Park last year. The Crusaders are on a 14-match unbeaten run and have won all 20 play-off matches ever played in Christchurch. “We have huge respect for the Crusaders‚” captain Warren Whiteley soon echoed. “What an opportunity for us. In New Zealand‚ in Christchurch. What more do you want? This is why you play the game.”
Kevin Anderson’s success a boost for tennis in SA
Kevin Anderson’s recent run to the Wimbledon men’s singles final and a career high ranking of No 5 has given tennis in South Africa a boost‚ which the sport’s managing body is hoping to leverage. Tennis SA‚ under chief executive Richard Glover‚ has been making steady progress in terms of attracting sponsors and opening performance centres over the past 18 months. “It was interesting because although Kevin reached the final is the US Open in 2017‚ the reaction was nothing like his quarterfinal win over Federer at Wimbledon‚” Glover said. 
French player fined for Washington meltdown
French player Benoit Paire has been fined $16,500 after a racket-smashing meltdown during his first-round defeat by Marcos Baghdatis at the Washington Open this week. Paire, known for his volatile temperament, smashed three rackets and kicked a courtside bench and was booed off the court after appearing to give up on match point down. Paire was sanctioned for “audible obscenity, unsportsmanlike conduct and a lack of giving best effort”.
Hand injury forces Wie to quit Women’s British OpenMichelle Wie said she was “devastated” after a longstanding hand injury forced her to pull out during the first round of the Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes on Thursday. Playing in frequent rain showers, the 28-year-old American was on seven over par after 12 holes before deciding she could not continue. “I’ve been doing everything humanly possible to get my hand healthy enough to play this week,” she said on Twitter. “But it wasn’t enough. I gave it my all today, but I couldn’t stand the pain any longer. I felt if I kept pushing it then I could make it even worse. But I’m devastated to have to pull out mid-round.”
Marquez rides into Czech with rivals in vain pursuit
As the MotoGP season reaches its halfway point on Sunday, Marc Marquez sits regally in first place seemingly as concerned with his adoring fans as with his distant pursuers. The Czech MotoGP in Brno is the 10th of the 19 races on this season’s calendar. It is also the 100th for the 25-year-old Spaniard in the sport’s elite class and he has won 40 of them.  This season, after winning five of the first nine races, including the last two in Assen and on the Sachsenring, the Honda rider’s closest rivals are two Yamaha riders.  Italian veteran Valentino Rossi is 46 points back and another Spaniard, Maverick Vinales, trails by 56.
Italy approves multi-city 2026 Winter Games bid
The Italian Olympic Committee voted on Wednesday to ratify a bid for the 2026 Winter Games that would see three cities hosting the event for the first time. The committee is proposing to spread the games across a vast area of northern Italy, taking in the capitals of the Lombardy and Piedmont regions — Milan and Turin — and winter sport resort Cortina in the Veneto.
- AFP, Reuters, TimesLIVE

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